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Pain in the Left Shoulder and the Base of the Neck During Exercise

author image Rose Erickson
Rose Erickson has been a professional writer since 2010. She specializes in fitness, parenting, beauty, health, nutrition and saving money, and writes for several online publications including The Krazy Coupon Lady. She is also a novelist and a mother of three.
Pain in the Left Shoulder and the Base of the Neck During Exercise
A woman is explaining her neck pain to her doctor. Photo Credit KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Pain in the neck and left shoulder during exercise can be debilitating, stopping you in your tracks and preventing you from continuing your workout. It can also linger long after your exercise routine, making even simple motions such as lifting or turning your head painful. Because of this, it is important to understand how to remedy and prevent neck and shoulder pain during exercise.


Pain in the shoulders and neck during exercise can be due to muscle overuse. Excessive use of muscles or repeated stress on muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bone can result in trauma and pain. You can also experience pain if you sprain or strain the ligaments or muscles in the base of the neck or left shoulder with exercises that involve sudden changes of direction or forceful movements. In addition, you can fall or collide with an object during exercise, resulting in pain.

Treatment Options

Treat shoulder and neck pain with an anti-inflammatory medication or acetaminophen. You can also apply an ice or heating pack to the injured area to reduce swelling and pain. Apply ice for the first 12 hours after identifying the discomfort, then switch to heat. If possible, wrap the area with an athletic bandage to constrict blood flow and ease symptoms while active. Be sure to unwrap the bandage when resting or sleeping. Stay upright to keep fluid and blood from collecting in the injured area, which can lead to pain and inflammation.


To prevent exercise-related shoulder and neck injuries, make sure that you stretch the upper body and neck every day, especially right before and after you exercise. Always maintain proper position and posture during exercise – if you aren’t sure if you are doing an exercise right, ask a trainer or doctor for advice. Cool down with a slow walk or a light five-minute aerobic routine after your workout to help prevent soreness and injury.


See a doctor if pain is the result of a fall, injury or a physical blow, especially if you find it difficult to move. In addition, get immediate medical attention if pain in the shoulders and neck does not subside with home remedies or is accompanied by a headache, fever, swollen glands, tingling, arm or hand weakness, incontinence, trouble with swallowing or difficulty breathing. These could be symptoms of a serious medical condition such as a spinal cord injury, tumor, meningitis or herniated disk.

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