Neck pain can be extremely debilitating. It can stop an athlete in their tracks. Our necks support our heads, which for some people can weigh quite a lot. Many sports require athletes to pivot and shift their bodies on the drop of a dime. To perform these precise, swift movements, they must have their heads on a swivel.

Unfortunately, if you’re an athlete dealing with neck pain, it is likely affecting your performance while playing the sport that you love. We cannot turn back time for those who have already dealt with severe neck injuries. However, we can help you prevent future ones.

Here are several innovative ways that athletes can avoid neck pain and continue playing the sport they enjoy on a high level.

1) Visit the Chiropractor

Chiropractic care can be used not only to treat existing neck injuries but also to help athletes avoid future ones. A common reason that neck pain starts is that there is a misalignment in the spine or shoulders. By receiving consistent chiropractic adjustments, athletes can keep their bodies in optimal shape.

Seeing a chiropractor can be intimidating for certain athletes. The cracking and popping videos you find online are quite intense. Sometimes, your neck pain can feel worse after the chiropractor. This isn’t uncommon, as different muscles and joints become reactivated through the adjustments you receive.

Chiropractors look at the entire body as a whole when helping you optimize your physical performance. Neck pain can also be caused by tense muscles in the upper back. A sports chiropractor can work with athletes to help them relax their muscles through different stretches and focused adjustments.

A neck injury can prevent an athlete from playing at the top of their game. Visiting the chiropractor helps you avoid neck and upper backaches that can turn into full-blown injuries later.

2) Stretch Regularly

Stretching your neck muscles is incredibly important to avoiding neck aches and pains. Our necks are under arguably more stress than ever before. Why is this? Texting. Smartphones are fully integrated into our lives. People use smartphones for everything and are constantly on their phones.

This new wave of technology usage is causing physical stress on peoples’ neck muscles and joints. ‘Text neck’ is a legitimate injury that can develop over time if someone points their head and neck down for extended periods of time without a break.

Since we cannot make technology vanish from our lives, we must counteract this potential neck injury with stretching. You can perform neck stretches first thing in the morning before starting your day. There is no cost to stretching on your own and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

For athletes, ask your trainer or coach about specific neck stretches that you can perform if you think text neck is happening to you. You can strengthen your neck muscles and avoid future injuries through a consistent stretching routine.

1) Don’t Skip Recovery Days

Recovery is half the battle for athletes that are trying to make it through an entire season without a neck injury. There’s a huge amount of physical stress placed on our neck and shoulders from playing sports and exercising. For players that have games with short gaps in between, recovery is key. What are some innovative ways that athletes recover from an intense game or workout?

Cycling between cold and hot baths is an effective way to help your muscles relax and recover from a strenuous workout. It’s also very common for athletes to get massages to help break up the tenseness within their muscles after a long game. Hydration and stretching help retain the health of your muscles. Sleep is also a huge component of recovery days. Putting all these recovery practices together can help you stay healthy and avoid neck pain as an athlete.

Investing in Your Health

Part of the longevity of an athlete’s career is how well they can avoid severe injuries. A bad neck injury can completely alter the trajectory of an athlete’s career path. If you play sports on any sort of competitive level, it’s crucial that you add wellness practices into your routine to help you avoid things like neck pain.

Small aches and pains can eventually turn into severe, chronic injuries. Don’t let that be you! Invest in your health and your body.