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Top Three Reasons Why You Get Shoulder and Neck Pain

Apr 30, 2023
neck pain

Has anyone else got really achy shoulders and a stiff neck or is it just me? Many of you are making the most of the early spring months by taking to your gardens, but for some of you this often leads to neck and shoulder pain. I have seen my fair share of patients with shoulder and neck pain, but so many of us live with shoulder and neck pain every day and never get round to doing anything about it. In fact, after an acute episode of neck pain, about 50% on people carry on with some symptoms! I want to use this blog to dispel and demystify some common reasons many people do develop these symptom and what you can do to get rid of them.

Without further ado, here are the three most common causes of neck and shoulder pain, and more importantly, what you can do about them.


Stiff Ribcage

Why does a stiff cage lead to neck and shoulder pain? Our ribcage helps facilitate movement throughout the entire body, most commonly upper ribcage corresponding to your shoulder/arms and lower ribcage corresponding to your lower back and legs. To have good joint range we must keep in mind what is happening below and above that area in our body. If your ribcage doesn’t move at all, can you imagine how much more movement your neck and shoulders need to go through to keep you going? Sometimes stiff ribcages can come from injury to the area, but more commonly I see them due to non-optimal movement patterns over a long period of time and stress. Picture your stressed office workers, or perhaps busy parents (and grandparents) lifting young children – if your ribcage doesn’t help you lift, your body will help you do so in other ways, until you reach that breaking point and develop an injury, seemingly out of nowhere.


Poor Abdominals

Another leading cause of neck and shoulder pain is a weak abdominal wall. When we discuss a weak abdominal wall – this includes both men and women. Weak abdominals do not just come from pregnancy and childbirth, but a plethora of things. Think early life injuries, any kind of accidents, abdominal incisions for any surgeries, the list goes on. Again, as aforementioned, our bodies are super clever and will often find another way to do the movements you want it to do, almost like a SatNav rerouting you to the same destination when there is a road closure. The problem with this is that when you keep using these other none optimal “routes” for everything those routes eventually get tired, develop potholes and need repair work. You use these alternate routes for so long that you forget how to use the main road. Your body does the same, it gets so use to your non-optimal coping strategies, that it forgets how to use those abdominals of yours!

I see this so often in Pilates – people who simply cannot activate the right part of their abdominal wall and drive everything through their neck, shoulders and back, then wonder why they feel so tense around that part of their body, and why it starts to hurt. The truth is your poor neck and shoulders are doing everything and just need a break to be offloaded! As soon as patients start to activate their abdominals, they are amazed at how much better their neck and shoulder symptoms are.


Overuse of the neck and shoulders

The third most common reason that people develop shoulder pain and neck pain is simply overusing them. Your body is trying to tell you these muscles are working overtime – you need to listen to it, or it will get worse, and you may end up with further injuries. Now whilst the abdominals and the ribcage are important to consider, your shoulders and neck could still be overloaded due to another reason, like not using the hands properly. Perhaps even a fracture from years ago, to the arm or wrist could have altered the biomechanics of your arm, and whilst we are good at compensating our bodies aren’t good at knowing when to stop compensating.


How to solve the problem

Whenever our bodies experience pain, there is often a reason behind it, even if it isn’t obvious at first. Pain is the best way for our body to make you stop and listen, to say “Hey! I am not okay, and I need you to look after me better”. With modern life, so many of us have got so good at ignoring that cry for help because we are too busy, or it isn’t important enough, or even thinking its normal as we age! So, the first thing to do is:

  • LISTEN to what your body is trying to tell you.
  • Try and think back to any potential injuries or surgeries you may have had, because no matter how long ago, they are relevant and we do want to know about them, consider whether your current symptoms correlate to those older injuries?
  • Try and think about any significant events that may have happened, stress, can throw up all sorts of funny coping mechanisms in the body. Whilst you may not be able to get rid of the stress, acknowledging it and finding strategies can help with how you deal with it.
  • See a professional. The quicker you can access someone who can help, the less likely your symptoms will take ages and ages to clear. If you aren’t sure who the best person to help is, why don’t you call in and chat to one of us. You can arrange a FREE call to speak to a physio by clicking here.

"Since going to the HealthHub about my neck and shoulder pain, I am able to spend lots of time outdoors, hiking even with heavy packs, working at a permaculture farm which involves a lot of heavy lifting and digging. All without having to worry that pain will be set off again. I feel empowered and confident in my body, no longer completely at the mercy of injuries and pain." - Niamh (click here to read the full story)


One More Thing

If you're still experiencing neck and shoulder pain, we have created this FREE guide on the 13 Ways to Eliminate Neck and Shoulder Pain. This comprehensive guide gives you quick and easy solutions for immediate pain relief as well as long term solutions for getting rid of pain for good.

CLICK HERE to download it now.


With love,


and the HealthHub Team


P.S. Don't forget to download your FREE neck pain report by clicking here


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