Throat Injuries After Stomach Exercises

Athlete woman doing abdominal crunches exercise Side view concept fitness
Some people may suffer throat injuries during a stomach workout. (Image: undrey/iStock/Getty Images)

Most throat and neck injuries occurring as a result of stomach exercise stem from neglecting to use proper form and technique. Exercising abdominal muscles means just that: exercising stomach muscles and possibly gluteal and upper-thigh muscles. However, many people inadvertently involve muscles surrounding the throat, which may cause pain in the throat area following situps or crunches. You should not use your neck muscles to facilitate working out the abs in any way. By learning how to avoid the improper use of neck muscles, exercisers can prevent suffering pain in the throat and neck area after engaging in stomach exercises.

Neck Muscles

Several muscles in the neck are susceptible to injury if abdominal exercises are performed incorrectly. The levator scapula is the muscle associated with having a "stiff neck" and results in feeling pain when the head is turned to one side or the other. A strained rhomboid muscle causes pain when someone exhibits poor neck posture and consistently holds the shoulders in a rounded position. A strained sternocleidomastoid muscle, which can be irritated by looking upward too much or sleeping with a pillow that does not provide much support, may also cause a headache as well as neck pain. Whiplash injury is associated with the trapezius muscle, as well as pain associated with driving for extended periods of time. Finally, posterior neck muscles may cause pain because someone is excessively bending the head forward, such as during writing, driving or reading.

How to Perform an Abdominal Crunch

Performing an abdominal crunch incorrectly may cause pain in the neck and throat area if you bring the neck and head forward instead of relying on abdominal muscles. One way to improve technique is to find something to fixate on above you, such as a spot on the ceiling, and do not take your attention away from that spot while performing a crunch. This should significantly decrease any urge to employ neck muscles when raising the body upward. You should not bring your chin to your chest area nor should you lift your head during this exercise. In addition, interlocking your fingers behind your head will only encourage you to rely on neck muscles for help. Try crossing your arms and laying them on your chest instead when doing abdominal crunches.

Perform Neck Warm-ups

To reduce the risk on injuring throat and neck muscles before performing stomach exercises, try doing some neck stretches to warm up neck muscles. To extend muscles, tilt the head back, hold for 10 seconds, then tilt it forward and look down at the ground for 10 seconds. Rotate the neck muscles by slowly rotating your head around in all directions, making ten full rotations. For side flexion of muscles, tilt your right hear towards your right shoulder, then tilt your left ear towards your left shoulder. Gently massage the back of the neck with your fingertips for about 30 seconds as well. This will stimulate blood flow and provide nutrients to the neck muscles.

Common Neck and Throat Injuries

Neck sprains are the most frequently reported injuries occurring as a result of exercising. Symptoms of a neck sprain include back of the neck pain that is exacerbated by movement, neck pain that is felt 24 or 48 hours after the workout session called delayed onset muscle pain, aching and muscle spasms in the upper back and shoulders, headache felt at the back of the head, sore throat, stiffness and possibly numbness or tingling of the arms and hands. A physician can correctly diagnose neck and throat pain by ruling out nonexercise related causes and administering proper treatment, usually involving RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

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