We’ve helped many people over the years who’ve come into the clinic with all sorts of neck problems. A common thing people describe when they’re having neck problems is that their neck feels weak.
An interesting thing we’ve found over the years is that this feeling of neck weakness is rarely due to an actual lack of neck muscle strength. What is most commonly happening here is that the neck muscles are strong, but they’re having to work too hard, and so they’re getting fatigued. This muscle fatigue in the neck will make the neck feel weak because the overloaded neck muscles are not able to do as good a job of holding your head up.
How do our neck muscles get overloaded to make the neck feel weak?
There are many factors that can contribute to overloading the neck muscles, but these are three common causes we see.
The first of these is forward head posture, usually caused by a rounded upper back that makes your head sit forward. When you have a forward head posture, the neck muscles have to work extra hard due to the weight of the head sitting further forward.
The second is thoracic stiffness or rigidity. This means stiffness or rigidity of your upper back. Many of the neck muscles that support the weight of the head actually originate in the thoracic area throughout your upper back and shoulder girdles. Stiffness and rigidity through these areas makes those neck muscles have to work much harder to do their job supporting the weight of the head, therefore overloading those muscles.
Poor Breathing Patterns
The third common cause we see of overload and fatigue of neck muscles is poor breathing patterns. Suboptimal breathing habits that involve underutilisation of the diaphragm and other important breathing muscles can overload certain neck muscles that have to compensate. This, therefore, leads to the fatigue of these neck muscles. Check out our blog showing you the 5 steps to optimal breathing.
A common mistake that is made is doing neck strengthening exercises just because the neck feels weak. The problem with this is if you’re doing strengthening exercises for muscles that are already overloaded and fatigued, it can lead to much worse problems. What is needed is a thorough assessment of what’s causing your neck muscles to be overloaded and fatigued, and for that to be addressed.
If your neck feels weak, come and see one of our trained therapists to get it properly assessed and to make sure the cause of the problem is being addressed.