Can You Strain Something in Your Head by Lifting Weights?

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A woman is flipping a tire in a gym. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

You're probably aware that weight lifting can result in sore muscles -- but you may be surprised to discover that your training session resulted in a sore, stiff neck and head. While it might seem odd, it's a typical response to poor form, and in most cases it's not cause for serious concern.

Your Head Has Muscles, Too

It might feel like a mass of bone, but your head actually has numerous muscles surrounding the face, neck and even the back of the head. Many of those muscles originate lower down in the body at the scapula or clavicle, helping to stabilize the head and neck. Like other muscles, it's totally possible to strain these muscles during weight training -- especially during weight-bearing movements that involve the arms, shoulders, chest or upper back.

Treating the Problem

Chances are what you're feeling is a muscle strain due to overuse, or from putting your muscles through a workout that was too vigorous. For most people, the pain and discomfort will go away after a few days. Alternating ice and heat packs over the area might help, suggests the NYU Langone Medical Center, as may some light stretching after the first day or so. If the pain persists or you're unable to move your head or neck, it may be time to see a doctor. The next time you weight train, ask a trainer or coach to watch you to ensure your form is correct and that you're not putting yourself at risk of further injury.

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