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4 Causes of That Pain In Your Neck... and What You Can Do About It!

Oct 21, 2021

Have you ever experienced pain in your neck while belaying? This pain is often referred to as “belayer’s neck”, and it can impact the safety of your climb. If you’re an avid climber, you know the pain of looking straight up, possibly with the blistering sun in your eyes for hours. Keeping your neck in that position can have negative impacts on your neck muscles, especially if you aren't maintaining neck maintenance and preservation. 


Typically, when we experience minor pain, we go out and purchase some device to mediate the pain ( yes, I even wear belayers glasses sometimes), however, if you are using it because your neck hurts, it might be a good idea to get that checked out first, as opposed to relying on the glasses. For me personally, I wear belayer's glasses just to remain in a relaxed state and do not use them every single time. 


So, what does belayer’s neck feel like?


Typically, belayer’s neck feels like pain/ tenderness, maybe even muscle spasms in the back of the neck. Discomfort is felt when looking up and sometimes even when you turn your neck left and right. It can even cause you to favor specific neck positions in order to ease the pain. 


What is it caused by?

  • Muscle strains
  • Facet joint irritation 
  • Nerve Root irritation
  • Thoracic outlet or nerve entrapment 

So, what can you do about it?

I like to use tools; specifically a cranium cradle and peanut tool ( or tie 2 tennis balls together).  

Pro Tip: You use the tool, don't let the tool use you. Be intentional with your exercises. 

Using the cranium cradle:

Lie on your back and put the cradle on the back of your head ( right under the base of your skull), and soften yourself into the cradle. This should be relaxing and not cause too much discomfort. Make sure to remove all distractions. You can do this for about 5-10 minutes. 

You can also target your upper back. Put the groove along the middle of your back where you feel tension and tightness. You can work into the tender spot by sinking into it. You can do this for about 5-10 min.

You can also target your shoulders and upper back If you have belayer’s neck, you can pull your shoulders back and down to free up some more neck range of motion, ultimately easing some of the pain. 

Ultimately, maintaining your neck, and targeting irritated areas can help you belay safer without leaving a strain on your neck. 


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