T Nation

Neck/Trap/Upper Back Warmups

It never fails that I end up doing something to the back of my neck either doing power cleans or OH presses. I am blaming it on the cleans and it is probably a form issue, although I am working on correcting it (light weight, pure practice sets). Although I do get it when I just do heavy OH presses as well.

I have been doing primarily 3 stretches/movements as part of my warmup before these:

  1. Put 1 arm behind your back and use the other to push your head forward
  2. Put your one wrist with your palm up at your waist, then reaching behind your back grab your wrist with the other hand, then tilt your head to the shoulder on the side your wrist is at.
  3. Scap raises, back and arms against wall raised OH.

…I’m thinking about adding light weight high rep shrugs and delt raises to try and pull more blood to my neck/trap/shoulder area to aid in my warmups. I’ll also do a couple light sets of pressing before I start at my working weight.

Does anybody have any ideas of things I can add or do better to warm this area up? Any good stretches/mobility drills/article/video clips that cover these topics?

What do you mean by ‘do something to the back of my neck’? Muscular pain or bone pain?

I don’t think neck/trap stretches really do anything. Your results may not reflect this, but I think the entire region was made more for stability than mobility, and all the problems I’ve had with my neck/traps/shoulders have had more to do with improper breathing, lack of joint viscosity, or HOT-ROX (HOT-ROX + Heavy bar on my back = headaches).

I’d instead look at scap stability. Strong scapula make everything OH safer.

I think the high-rep shrugs and raises are a step in the right direction (bring more blood to the area).

I think pushups, pullups, and OH Shrugs for a few weeks should strengthen the scapula sufficiently so that your problem gets healed.

Or maybe your form just sucks.

Explain the pain a little bit more, because I could be way off.

It a dull soreness on the back of my neck/trap area. I have been getting exertional headaches as well but they have faded and I usually take a couple ibuprofen before I lift. I’m pretty sure I just was mistiming my cleans and pulling too much with my upper body last time I did them, as I was doing them for time which was stupid.

Overall though, the left side of my neck/trap though is much tighter than my right. If I try to put my right ear to my right shoulder I can feel more tension in my left side than the otherway around. I’ve been doing the stretching to just try and get both sides equal. This is also the side of my head where I’ll get the headaches.

I’ve been doing pull ups and push ups, and I’ll try the OH shrugs. I’ve been doing a lot more OH movements and it sounds like a good exercise I’ve never really tried.

Another thing that occurred to me is it might be is a horizontal/vertical pull strength imbalance. I did a lot of climbing in college, a lot of pushups and pullups, but very few horizontal pulling movements. I’m working on this too.

Overall, I have a lot of things to work on, and I will throw in the scap work. If you any more ideas I would appreciate hearing them. Thanks.

It sounds like you do the stretches cold, if so I would say stop.

If you feel you have to stretch out your head/neck extensors- do some light progression work in the area ( you mentioned high rep/low weight shrugs).

When you stretch a “cold” muscle is when you can hurt yourself.

I usually do a 5 min on the rower, then some mobility complexes before I lift.

Its like 5 OH squats, 5 sotts press, 5 rear lunges/side and usually some leg swings, wide squat sits, and walking groin stretches that I forget what their called. I’m sweating pretty good by the time I get under the bar.

I really don’t do a lot of upper body/neck warmups though, so I will start before I stretch from now on. Thanks.

I did some db rows today and it came back. It either exacerbated the old problem, or there is a strength imbalance issue. I’m just going to really work on strengthening the whole area in general and throw a bunch of corrective exercises into my routine. I think OH shrugs are a good one to start with.