Pain across shoulders and neck

I've been running since Summer last year and have recently started to experience a really sharp pain across the back of my shoulders and base of my neck on my longer runs, would anyone have any idea what it might be?

I don't know whether I'm unconsciously tensing as I'm running or how its holding myself. Has anyone else suffered this?


  • Have not experienced this but its easy to tense your shoulders and not realise it, its probably the trapezius or rhomboid muscles I am guessing
  • Ah, I get this too after long runs. Don't know how to avoid it so also very interested to see if any suggestions come up! Am running the London Marathon next month and have got all my friends to take deap heat spray; hopefully it will help! Good luck!

  • I get the same problem, starts at about 5 miles but can't get to the bottom of it. Sprays/rubs/massage don't seem to work image Am doing Brighton next month so hoping it will be ok. Let me know if you find a solution!
  • I get this too and it's really common, especially when doing longer runs. As my mileage has increased the problem starts later and later into the run. I try hard to relax my shoulders as a run, I never hold a water bottle and on marathon day I will take some ibuprofen with me in case it gets too uncomfortable. I'm running Brighton too image
  • It's very likely to be muscular. I suspect that toxins are building in the muscles and not being adequately cleared and this leads to pain.

    A few strategies might prevent it;

    Warm up that area pre run with neck, arm and upper back movement, especially rotating the thorax to ensure you have enough thoracic rotation which is an important movement in running.

    Avoid static head positions during running, especially looking down for too long. Regularly lift your head or lower your head. Could also vary your arm position, run a few strides with your arms straight hanging by your side and let the shoulders drop. Try a few shoulder shrugs here and there to get the muscles moving. The trick is to do this before the pain starts as a preventative (although it will work to reduce pain when it's there).

    Improve upper body fitness - do upper body work in the gym as part of cross training. Biceps curls, shrugging holding weights in your hands and general upper body work can help. Swimming is good too.

    Use postural taping. This is hard to do on yourself but you can use a K tape in a "Y" shape coming up the back and across the shoulders (over the trapezius muscle) for a bit of extra support (google postural taping, loads of ideas there).

    Stretch the upper traps and rhomboids (between the shoulder blades) post run.

    If all this fails and it's still an issue then see a Physio to work out why it's happening. Also if you experience pain that radiates from the neck into the arm or pins and needles/ numbness then make sure you see a GP. As with any advice here, if in doubt get it checked out!
  • It's often caused by a poor head position when running (sticking your chin out).

    Try lying on a rolled up towel or foam roller to release your upper back before and after runs.
  • Many thanks for the above advice, hope its of use to the others too. Will try some of the tips when I do my last longish run on sunday. Many thanks image
  • Good luck for Brighton. I'm running it too...
    ...see you at the finish line!
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