Can Stress Cause Neck Pain? 7 Ways To Alleviate Neck Pain

Stress can manifest itself in many ways, including tight muscles or headaches. When we experience long term stress, our bodies can hold tension in our neck and shoulder muscles, which can lead to pain. Neck pain is a common symptom caused by persistent stress. The more stressed we are, the more tense our muscles become, causing more pain and discomfort. You may also develop tension headaches. So what can you do to help settle down the pain? Keep reading for our top tips on how to relieve neck pain from stress.

How to manage neck pain from stress:

1. Physiotherapy and Massage therapy

Soft tissue massage can help to release tight and overworked muscles, reduce spasms and assist in tissue regeneration. Physiotherapy or remedial massage has a great effect on stress reduction. It can promote a decrease in cortisol, which is the hormone produced when we are stressed and in pain. Massage also promotes increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, to improve your mood, encourage relaxation and relieve your pain.

2. Heat

Heat works to increase blood flow and relax muscles, to help reduce the tension. If you have a hot pack at home, apply it to your neck and shoulders for approximately 20 minutes before you go to bed. A hot bath or shower also works well and is soothing for tense neck muscles.

3. Stretching

Gentle neck stretches can help improve your flexibility and range of motion. They also help to loosen up the tightness in your neck muscles. When we are stressed we tend to hunch our shoulders and carry extra tension in the muscles. Doing regular stretches can help prevent the muscles from tightening to the point where they cause pain.

4. Strengthening exercises

Strengthening your upper body muscles is essential in preventing neck pain. When we are weak between the shoulder blades, the muscles at the top of your shoulders (trapezius) and in your neck become overactive. This means they overcompensate and become very tight and sore. By strengthening your upper back muscles, your neck will be better supported. The overactive muscles will learn to switch off and not carry as much of the load. If you go to the gym, doing exercises such as rows or lat pull downs work really well. Otherwise, there are exercises at home you can do using small hand weights or theraband. Speak to a physio about what exercises would be best for you.

5. Go for a walk

Sometimes we just need some time out. Step away from your desk and go for a walk to clear your head and have a break from all the stresses in your life. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the hormones that make us feel good. Make time to go for a walk every day. You might also like to listen to music or podcasts while you walk to shift your focus to something different.

6. Sleep

Our body repairs itself while we sleep. Some of the questions you should be asking yourself:

  • Do you have good sleeping habits?
  • Are you getting enough sleep each night?
  • Are you spending too long looking at your phone or computer before going to bed?
  • Are you having caffeinated drinks in the evening?

If you suffer from poor sleep, perhaps consider what other lifestyle aspects may be contributing. You may also want to think about whether you have a good pillow that supports your neck properly. Your physiotherapist can help advise you on the best pillow to support your neck and best mattress for your spine.

7. See a Physiotherapist

Physiotherapy treatment is really effective in relieving neck pain. Your physiotherapist will use hands on manual therapy techniques to relieve muscle tightness and joint stiffness. They can also use ultrasound, heat packs and TENS for pain relief. They will prescribe you with an exercise program including stretches and strength work which will be specifically tailored to your condition to help speed up your recovery. They can also give you advice on how to set up your workstation and improve your posture, as well as give you tips on how to manage the pain.

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer both Physiotherapy and remedial massage services. Give us a call on 9875 3760 or email

If you need physical therapy to relieve
your pain, and would like some more
information, feel free to contact us!

Give us a call on (02) 9875 3760 or email We would
be more than happy to help you.