T Nation

Train through the pain

I’ve worked something like 80 hrs last week almost all of which was construction. I managed to lift like I should and eat pretty well. On friday I worked a 16 hr day and woke up with a pain in my neck on saturday. Well it’s tuesday now and the pain still isn’t gone. It kind of feels like I slept on it wrong. It’s mostly on the right side and bothers me most when I tilt my head back or flex my traps. I’m going crazy not being able to lift and am starting to think -uck it. I’ve tried steam showers/some stretching/asprin. Unfortunatley it’s still there. Aside from “See a doctor” any advice? Thanks.

Ibuprofen Gel…doesnt get into the blood as easy…or DMSO if you can find it…great short term solutions…or a CHiropractor…worked wonders for me…usually its a stained muscle or a nerve caught up somewhere…if heat isnt working its prob a nerve…

I had a similar problem last month after some heavy shrugs and the only thing that would make the pain go away was…more training. But the pain always came back afterwards. I finally said &$ it and stopped training for an entire week. Sucked but it worked.

Get a massage.

4 things you’ll need to get rid of the pain:

  1. Thailand
  2. 4 dollars
  3. 2 girls
  4. “soapie”

if you haven’t got Thailand on hand, get someone to try and massage out your trap and right side of your neck. gentle stretching throughout your day helps too. i get the same pain as well - a combination of training traps heavy, hunched desk work, and bad sleeping positions. if it gets really bad, take a tennis ball and drive it into your upper back/trap against a wall. also try rub-a-535. and rest a little - the inflammation may prolong the pain if you work it too quickly after a strain.

Most of the time someone has a pain that feels like they have slept on their neck wrong it is usually the same thing, especially when it is accompanied by pain when flexing their traps.  This type of pain is often the result of Wry neck.  With wry neck the reason for this pain is a muscle spasm, primarily the traps.  The tight muscle is putting pressure on a nerve that is where you are feeling the pain.  As far as helping the pain, keep stretching and putting heat on it, whether it is a hot pack or a hot shower.  

Unless you have access to a high volt e-stim unit, there is not much else you can do for it but wait.  A good massage will help for about an hour or so but the pain will come back.  If you could get a massage before you lift, you could get a quality workout immediatly after, however the next day you should pay attention to how it feels.  If it is worse, you might just want to give it time.  If the spasm or tightness is bad enough, it could take up to 5 or 6 days for it to feel completely better, with rest.  Could take longer if you try and do too much too soon.

The main way to treat this however is to prevent it from happening.  Make sure when you are doing any lifts for the back or shoulder, whether they are trap dominant or not, you should make sure to stretch your neck and traps well.  Just a few minutes stretching them can prevent a week's worth of pain.

If the pain hasn’t gone away or gotten better after 5 days, i would go see a doctor. If the pais is getting better, I would give it about a week before going to the Doc. Hope this helps


Go to the drugstore and buy a $15.00
soft cervical collar and where it for a night, even during sleep. I usually find that that immobilization will allow the muscle to loosen up and de-contract.

Thanks for the feedback. I took off today, so I’ll try as many of those suggestions as I can.

Ice it if you can. Most people think heat will help too but every good doc i’ve ever talked too says heat causes more inflammation(if there is any). Sounds like some good ole rest is in order.

I train through it as well. Some high rep sets of exercises that hit the traps (ie. shrugs, highpulls, etc.) usually allow the pain to subside enough to get a workout. I don’t know if this is the smart thing to do, but I’ve done both training through it and taking time off and the pain lasts about the same amount of time so I say fuck it.


Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But I don’t really subscribe to the first one for neck or back if minor spasms and the 4th is obviously irrelevant and the 3rd is dangerous!

The spasm is method the body uses to protect the spine from damage if it senses a strain to the related soft tissues or veterbrae themselves. You have to reduce the muscle tone of the effected area to allow recovery to take place i.e. get rid of the spasm.

I occasionally (less frequent since making lower back stronger) get back spasms. My back locks up and i can’t even stand straight (have real problems with d-bol). The way i deal with the symptoms is use anti-inflammatories to relax the area first. Apply ice to the area as baby huey suggested to reduce inflammation. Do this for the first 24 hours at least. Massage is good to reduce the localised tension. Self-massage is also effective. I always do light rehab movements once i get any movement back. The sooner you can get blood flow to that area and get it moving again the faster you’ll recover. I normally do neck extensions or flexions with very light weights just to warm the area up. Maybe 20 reps with a 50 rep load.

Oh and don’t do any heat treatment until the inflammation has subsided. Once you get some movement back heat therapy will help. As AceQhounddog said trap shrugs are good with very light load.

I experienced the same problems in the neck, shoulders, trap area. I see a chiropractor every two weeks and will get the occasional massage. The lady that gives me the massage gave me some good advice for stretching out the neck/traps. Sit down in a straight back chair (like a kitchen table chair), you begin by either sitting on your hand (left or right) or grabbing the seat of the chair. Lean away from the side you hand is sitting on. You should feel a stretch in your neck/traps. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side. It has done wonders for me. Other than this stretch I would so go to a chiropractor and have him/her work on you a little.

I can’t believe my grammar in the above post…“Where it”??? I should be chained to the machines in a Curves For Women salon for life.