Neck pain with squatting

I had a D-1 college thrower complaining of pain with back squats. I immediately thought it would be knee, hip or low back pain, the “normal” symptoms associated with squats.

Imagine my intrigue when she told me it was pain at the base of her neck. I took her through squat assessment, marching assessments and motion palpation of her SI joints. She was restricted on her SI joint mobility bilaterally but nothing that would be compensatory for her neck. Minimal core instability from her training program. I continued looking…

I didn’t have a squat rack or bar but I did have a dowel rod. I had her place it on her back to see what adding the arms into the movement would do. I immediately saw her problems: she had so much shoulder restriction (upper trap and deltoid) that the bar rested on her neck at C6/7 instead of her being able to lower it on her back. Now, imagine her with 450 pounds on the bar and you can see where her neck pain was coming from.

Joseph Pilates has over 600 exercises in his system. It is said that if he didn’t have an exercise to fix his client’s dysfunction, he would create one. Therefore, this is my Pilates inspired correction for this patient: the waiter stretch.