What you did

Hurt your neck performing seated overhead presses, specifically when pushing the bar up.

What you feel

Constant pain and stiffness in the back of your neck. You can’t turn your head side to side. The pain may also have spread to your upper back or shoulders.

The diagnosis

Mechanical neck pain or muscle strain. You’ve likely damaged some tissue around the ligaments or discs in the spine, causing a spasm.

So what should you do?

SEE ALSO: 11 Ways to Fix Shoulder Pain

The treatment

  1. See a physical therapist or chiropractor who can perform myofascial release on your neck.
  2. If the pain is acute and intense, do not stretch your neck. That could worsen the discomfort.
  3. Train posture in your warmup with scapula pinches (squeeze your shoulder blades together).
  4. If you can’t turn your head to the right, place your left hand against your left cheek. Turn your head to the left while gently resisting. Hold five seconds. Relax, move your head farther to the right, and repeat.


Neck strain during overhead pressing usually occurs toward the end of a set, when you’re eking out a few more reps. It’s not worth the risk, so stop when you feel fatigued. Furthermore, don’t look up as you press. Keep your eyes level.