T Nation

Neck Pain While Rucking


Hey Everyone,I wasnt sure on where to post this so sorry but I was looking for someone's whos had some experience rucking (walking w/ a loaded backpack) for a couple years or so. After only about 15-20 min my neck starts to kill-especially on the right side,and i'm not even using that much weight (20-25lbs).I've made sure the weight is evenly distriputed and my pack fits good aswell.Is this just something I'll have to get used to or is there anything I can do to help fix this ?? Thanks in advance for any help.


Where the straps sit on your shoulders can make huge difference (closer to the neck, farther away, depends on the person really). As well, using a waist belt can help, it takes some of the load off of your shoulders and distributes it more evenly. It may just take time for your upper back to get used to bearing load like that, especially when you are moving and the weight pushes down. I've had pretty bad trap/neck pain from rucking, but that was usually with a lot more than 20-25 pounds. Proper warming up can help too; neck rolls, shoulder rolls, ect. What kind of pack is it? Military issued?


Thanks for your reply Roch,I wish I had a military issued pack,but I'm just trying to get myself ready for BMQ next year. i'm using a hiking/mountain climbing pack from a climbing store,it's got waist and chest straps and some straps to hold the weight closer to the body.What you said about warming up the neck makes sense-i wish i thought of that earlier LOL.I'm a bit of a shorter/stockier guy,so should the straps sit lower aswell?Thanks


Well, the sternum strap will be across the chest, hopefully it sits lower though. And the hip belt you want to be low on the hips. I wear mine pretty much where my actual belt is. The issued rucks are a lot better, not amazing, but pretty good. Depends if you get the new ones, or an old 82 pattern (combat trades have the new ones, some others don't yet, but they should soon enough). Also, cinch down the hip belt a bit tigher, don't wear it loose, that way you can loosen the shoulder straps a tiny bit and let your hips carry the weight more. It takes a ton of stress off of the shoulders.

Try to mix it up when you ruck though. Don't wear the hip belt the whole time, do a kilometer or so every so often without it done up and instead tighten the shoulder straps. It lets your upper back get a bit more of a workout and can give your hips a small break. If you have any questions about rucking in general, feel free to ask me, I've done quite a bit of it.


Thanks for the tips man, this helped a lot !!!


I don't know about your Military mate, but using a waist belt is not allowed here. Cant't dump your pack quickly if contacted. So training with one could be counter productive.


There's value in training both with and without the waist belt. I agree that it can't be dropped as quick if you come under contact, but as a means of just getting physically prepared for this lad to go on his BMQ (Basic Military Qualification here in Canada), getting his feet hardened up and the rest of his body used to moving under load is pretty important. Knowing when to wear the belt and when not to, situation dictating, will come with time and training.


Foam rolling the neck/shoulders definitely helps. Getting used to load carrying does take time though. One major aspect to look at is our walking stance when rucking..could be that you are having to lean and pull forward to counteract the weight, if so take a look at getting the heavy stuff reorgainised in your pack as closely to your back as possible.


So should i pack it to get the heavy stuff up top? I've been reading that alot lately.Right now I'm just using a couple weight plates wrapped in a towel,so should I cram some clothes and such in there to help the weight sit higher up in the pack? Oh and thanks for the foam rolling tip bignurse!


Ideally no, that tends to cause balance problems. Best place for the heavy stuff is around the centre in height but close in to your back. I was trying to find a link for you on the work done by nz guy (aarn tate) on rucksack/bodypack ergonmics,if you get a chance google search aarn packs where he has a good explanation of this.

General guide to packing a ruck well is to have something very light right at the bottom eg your sleeping bag/spare clothes. Heaviest stuff then in next layer but with the densest weight close in to your back, then medium weight above that--in practical terms thats where your shelter system/foulies go.

One thing to check is that the ruck is of the right length,in my experience lots of people have packs that are the wrong size or shape for them--usually too long.

Getting used to carying load does take time and training,i am lucky in that i have been carrying rucksacks since my teens..even so if i am preparing for a trip i will train with increasing distance and load, also nowadays tend to 'shock load' with much higher weight occiasonally .


Really though mate, it's probably better to prepare for your basic by doing more, shorter rucks. Its rare to have to force march at speed, but you'll often find yourself stopping and starting, so things like stopping and taking a knee, then getting up without making any noise are good to practise.

I doubt they will throw you in the deep end with really heavy packs, so make sure you GPP is up to it as well. You can be guaranteed that some form of LSD run and some form of circuit will happen fairly often. Likely more than any rucking.

I hate to say it, but crossfit is probably quite good for preparing for basic.


Thanks for all the input guys-I'm gonna head out tomorow and try some of them out. @wahuuga I know the longest distance I'll have to do is 13Km with 35kg's,and the longest run is only 2.4Km. I figured I do some of the free operator sessions on militaryathlete.com with some rucking once or twice a week to help prepare.


Is that the longest run in a test? The tests are the same here, but we regularly ran 8-10km in mountains during basic. Try find out from someone whose been through it.

Edit: on second thought, you guys pretty much live inside those massive gyms you have in winter aye? Probably won't have to run that far then.


Sorry, forgot to add that my perspective is civilian rather than military and expedition/bushcraft based so usually it's kit choice and personal choice rather than what you get issued and what you have to do for the military tests.

Nowadays i do tend to go as lightweight as possible and i do invest lots in good kit,equally i get out there in lots of varied terrain as much as possible.


Civilian input is great for military guys. I work with a guy who used to be a mountain guide on glaciers and stuff. Is a wealth of knowledge on how to make your gear work for you.

For your pack TSpoon, making sure the kidney pad and straps are right for you will make life so much easier. Does Canada still issue ALICE packs?


I've been through it, and other things too. Trust me, 13km isn;t the longest that you will do, and remember, that is the minimum standard (13km with 24.5kg in under 2 hours and 26 minutes, it's not too bar if you think about it, but oyu should be able to do more afterwards too.). And 2.4km is a testing standard, you will run longer distances than that. Aim for 5km in between 25 to 30 minutes. More often than not, when you're on course,you will be running farther than that. Even in bad weather, Canadians aren't afraid of the cold. Showing up in decent shape and you'll do fine, but showing up in better shape makes it much easier. And in my opinion, calisthenics (pushups, strict pullups, situps, ect.), running, and rucking will serve you better than doing crossfit. Your PT won't consist of high rep oly lift movements performed with atrocious form, or swinging on pullup bars like your having an epileptic fit.


Wahuuga, no ALICE packs, or 64 pattern jump rucks, and most of the military isn't using 82 patterns anymore either. We have these new, enormous, CADPAT, civi style rucks. They aren't too bad, but a lot of guys don't like them.


Just had a look at them, they look pretty nice. Way flasher than ours anyway. Internal frames are a godsend, as it doesn't seem all that hard to cut those aluminium strips to length. Without your boss knowing of course.


I took mine out. They take a template of your back, then give you straight aluminum stays, and expect you to bend them. They never end up good. Mine we're close, but as soon as I put on the ruck with them it felt really off. The way they take the template and the way you actually move with a ruck are so different, especially under load. There's still an internal frame without them though, two long steel rods on either side, its all it needs really, its so heavy with material that it doesn't lose it's shape. Not meaning to derail the thread.


@TSpoon : There ya go mate, fuck off the aluminium, Keep heaviest items close to your back, and make sure your kidney pad is in the best spot. Should stop a majority of the weight off your neck, will help with the pain.