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Throbbing in the Neck After Pushups

author image Emma Cale
Emma Cale has been writing professionally since 2000. Her work has appeared in “NOW Magazine,” “HOUR Magazine” and the “Globe and Mail.” Cale holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Windsor and advanced writing certificates from the Canadian Film Centre and the National Theatre School of Canada.
Throbbing in the Neck After Pushups
Throbbing neck muscles may indicate incorrect form with pushups. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Proper technique is crucial for the pushup. This exercise works a significant number of muscles simultaneously, and improper technique can easily lead to injury in the muscles of the neck or shoulder. A throbbing sensation in your neck muscles following a set of pushups may indicate a strain in the neck muscles, or in more serious cases, a sprain.

Muscle Strain

Throbbing in the neck after pushups may indicate a muscle strain or pulled tendon in the neck or shoulder. Sometimes strains can be attributed to over-training: too many pushups with not enough rest between workouts. Neck or shoulder strains typically involve muscle spasms. Other symptoms include swelling, pain, cramps and in more severe cases, loss of muscle function.

Neck Sprain

Muscle spasms in the neck accompanied by intense pain, inflammation and bruising around the neck region may mean you have sprained your neck during pushups. Neck sprains are more severe injuries which also impede range of motion in the neck or shoulder. Neck sprains typically respond well to rest, ice and heat therapy.

Proper Technique

Improper technique can lead to injury in an intense multi-joint exercise such as the pushup. During both the downward and upward phases of the pushup, keep your head aligned with your spine. If you crank up your neck during these phases, or if you allow your neck to hang, you may cause strain or injury to the neck muscles. Keep your jaw relaxed during both phases. As an added precaution, perform the pushup with your elbows squeezed against your ribs. This modification transfers some of the force away from the shoulder joint to the triceps, which may in turn alleviate some of the spasms in your neck.


Spasmodic torticollis refers to a condition that causes involuntary spasms in the muscles of the neck and upper back. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, symptoms of spasmodic torticollis include sudden and painful contractions and sporadic spasms of the neck muscles, which cause the head to assume an irregular position. Spasmodic torticollis can lead to impaired range of motion in the neck as well as postural problems. See your physician if the throbbing in your neck muscles after pushups causes your head to rotate or tilt involuntarily.

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