Orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Frey claims that neck pain is one of the most common complaints among his patients. A good number of people with neck pain have experienced a cervical sprain, which is an injury frequently suffered by bodybuilders and weightlifters. If you regularly lift heavy weights, it’s important for you to know how to recover from this condition.
What Is a Cervical Sprain?
Seven vertebrae and an intricate network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons support the head and allow it to move in all directions. Unfortunately, the fact that the cervical spine is so mobile is what makes it susceptible to injury. A cervical sprain occurs when there is damage to the ligaments supporting the neck or cervical spine, and often results from undue stress.
Some common causes of this condition include:
- Poor posture.
- Excessive flexion or bending forward.
- Overstretching, or forcing the muscles beyond what they can endure.
According to an article published by the National Strength Conditioning Association, a protrusion of the head when the neck muscles are under load (such as during weightlifting) is associated with an increased risk of damage to the cervical discs of the neck. Chiropractor Brian Strump claims that many injuries result occur when people look up rather than straight ahead when performing kettleball swings or deadlifts.
Symptoms and Treatments
If you are suffering from a cervical sprain, you may notice muscle spasms in the neck, or have difficulty turning your head in either direction. It is recommended to seek medical attention if you notice these symptoms. Depending upon the severity of your condition, a doctor may:
- Prescribe medication to relieve pain and eliminate muscle spasms.
- Recommend the use of a cervical collar to provide support for the neck and remove of the head’s weight off of it. You may be required to wear this collar for between two to three weeks while your neck heals, and then during weightlifting sessions after that time to prevent further injury.
- Refer you to a physical therapist, who can teach you exercises to strengthen your spine so that you are less likely to experience another neck sprain in the future.
Rest Is Required
A certain amount of rest is required after experiencing a cervical sprain. That doesn’t mean you can’t work out, but you could nonetheless be required to modify your routine by avoiding certain exercises such as deadlifts, lat pull downs and military presses. You might also need to lift lighter weights for about a week or two until your neck has fully recovered. Listen to your body and adjust your workout accordingly. Stop exercising if you notice any discomfort, particularly a shooting pain along the sides or back of your neck.
A cervical sprain can wind up being more than just a pain in the neck, as it can make keeping up with your fitness routine and performing everyday activities difficult. Make a conscious effort to use the correct form when exercising and your odds of developing one will be greatly reduced.