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5 Physio Tips on How to Help Prevent My Neck Pain – Part 2

Estimated Read time: 4 minutes

Please note: Our articles are not designed to replace medical advice. If you have an injury we highly recommend seeing a qualified health professional. To book an appointment with Tim, or one of The Online Physiotherapy team, please visit our Physio clinic page. We have specialists for each major area of the body, ensuring you receive the best treatment for your injury.

💡 ‘The Executive Summary’

Neck pain is an absolute nightmare when you get it! It often comes out of nowhere and is only discovered upon waking up, and being hit by pain when you raise your head from the pillow. It feels like your neck is locked, and there is no helping… But you’re telling me I can help prevent my neck pain? WOW.

Now, there are a few risk factors such as age, gender and a history of neck pain that cannot be avoided, BUT by being proactive and optimising; sleep duration, pillow and mattress support, ergonomic set up, lifting technique, and stressors will make a huge impact into your likelihood of suffering from neck pain. So without further ado, let us jump right into the meat of the message!

Introduction: "I can help prevent my neck pain?

Helping to prevent neck pain is often possible despite popular belief.

You need the know-how, and the proactiveness – all of which we will seek to impart and instil in you today.

Taken from decades of clinical experience as a Physiotherapist, and a ton of times in the research articles, we condense it down into this short blog article today.

If you haven’t done so already, we would recommend reading through Part 1 of the Trilogy on Neck Pain.

This gives you a fantastic foundation to the build up of neck pain. It covers;

– Who gets neck pain?

– What are the risk factors for getting neck pain and can I prevent it?

  • Rare but serious causes of neck pain.  
  • Symptoms of a heart attack 
  • Symptoms of meningitis

– What are the symptoms of neck pain?

– Why do I get neck pain? Why does it hurt?

The 5 Best Ways To Help Prevent Neck Pain.

Prevention is better than cure.

We’ve all heard it, but do we do it? Most of the time, no. We are busy, don’t you know?!

But I would definitely urge you to block off the time, and make it happen. It will lessen the chances of a necessary trip to the Physio or doctor.


Ok. So a few of these risk factors are unavoidable. This includes getting older, being female, having an existing history of neck pain, and being on the low socioeconomic spectrum (some may argue a point on the latter, but really it’s not one to argue on today!)


However, if you persist in having an ingredients list of the following; low levels of physical activity, repeatedly lifting heavy weights with poor form, spending aaaages at a laptop daily with poor ergonomics, rubbish sleep patterns, having a poor pillow and mattress, and high stress levels are an absolute car crash waiting to happen! So tell me, how do I help prevent neck pain going forwards? How do I tackle each of these factors?

1. Make sleep a priority – find out how much you need – and get it!

Ensure a good night’s sleep.
Watch this space!

* Our blog on The Power of Sleep is coming out very soon *

Again, we’ve all heard it before – but being busy, distracted and overwhelmed by committment and over-connectedness makes us lack the simple source of brain cell regeneration, emotional/mental health and much more. 

Research is clear that sleep is absolutely key for many things (see blog coming soon!) – and the byproduct of a continuous shortened sleep period, or poor sleep, is that our neck becomes tighter. This can be due to rising stress levels, reduced deep sleep where our muscles relax and heal, and poorer emotional and mental wellbeing which perpetuates the vicious cycle.


So, Tim, what would you recommend?

The evidence would encourage you to first, find out how much sleep you need, by doing the sleep test – we highly recommend you do this and don’t skimp on it…. But until you do get a window to do it, a general guide is to gain between 7-8hrs sleep a night.


The Sleep Test: ‘the sleep holiday’

A great way to determine your ‘sleep needs’ is to take a “sleep holiday.” Over a 14-day period, when your schedule is flexible or you’re going to be on holiday, pick a consistent bedtime (we would recommend 9-10pm) and do not use an alarm clock to wake up. 

The likelihood is that for the first few days or week you will sleep for much longer, as you’ll be paying off your debt of sleep! This is the amount of sleep deprivation that you have accumulated over a period of time. If you are consistent with the same time you go to bed/sleep, and allow your body to wake up naturally, you will soon establish a pattern of sleeping essentially the same amount of time each night, probably in the range of 7 to 9 hours. Good job! You’ve now identified the amount of sleep that you need. The challenge for you now, is to protect this, to enable a full and healthy life!


Now that you’ve worked out your needs, discipline is next! Tell people close to you, and ask them to check in every now and then, and take practical steps to help you go to bed at a decent time. I.e. no tech in the bedroom, no tv after a certain time, and more.

2. Don’t overwork the neck muscles (lifting weights/at work/at home)

If you’re a gym goer and you have any doubts around your lifting technique. Ask a fitness instructor to review this. It may require you to lessen the weights initially, to then build back up with the right technique. This will pay dividends in the future, as you’ll be building the right muscle groups, vs your neck taking up the slack!


– If you are in a manual job, ensure that your neck is not activating unnecessarily during tasks that you do regularly. This could be a recipe for disaster. If you’re unsure if this is the case, speak to a colleague to check your lifting action to share their insights. Being in the manual profession, it may be useful to meet with one of our Physios to carry out a body MOT and ensure that we nip any early niggles in the bud, and bulletproof your neck, shoulders and back.

PS – being a stay at home mum or dad puts you in this manual job category! Often a big cause of pain is household chores and looking after kids!

– If you do gardening a lot with your head in a downward position, be extra mindful of your neck strength and that it may need more attention i.e. stretching and strengthening than most others. We would advise you to have a session with one of our Physiotherapists to give you a preemptive stretching and strengthening programme that is specific to your needs!

3. Regular neck stretching!

Ensuring that your neck doesn’t get tighter and tighter over time with regular stretching is a fantastic way to help prevent neck pain.


My two favourite stretches for neck pain are:

1. Lateral neck stretch (as pictured!)

Action: Place one hand under the chair/bottom, and the other on the opposite side of the head resting on the ear. Bend the neck towards the shoulder on the opposite side to the hand underneath the chair. 

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

2. Flexion stretch.

Action: Place hands on back of bead, and flex neck forwards, and hold for30 seconds. Complete 3 reps.

4. Engage in Pilates or neck strengthening regularly

Pilates is one of the activities that I believe most people would benefit from doing regularly to ensure full body strength and being preventative vs reactive! Studies have found it to be great for treating neck pain! – why not do it before!

My wife and I LOVE doing this to strengthen our body and make it more resilient against injury….and I have to say, it works!

You can do this very well online, or in-person depending upon your preference.

Pilates instructors are very good at checking form, and building the intrinsic muscles. That is, the muscles that control small and big movements – not just the big maximal muscles we use when playing sports, or running for example.


Side note: Online Pilates is a service that we are looking to open up. If you would be interested, then please shoot us a message to submit your interest. We have a highly experienced and simply awesome Pilates (ex-Physio) Instructor in mind already.

5. Ensure optimal desk setup

Ergonomics a.k.a. Desk set-up and positioning, is one of the major pieces of the puzzle for the modern man and woman.

Ergonomics is simply the science of ‘how our desk items fit to our bodies, rather than the other way around!’

We get into all sorts of wacky positions, that are simply pressure cookers for our bodies. It can be the slightest thing, such as off-centre screens, poor chair, desk or keyboard layout that can all influence our body position, that ultimately can result in neck pain.

If you need assistance we complete full ergonomic assessments that are super helpful in preventing and reducing injury). To get your desk set-up optimised to help prevent injury to your neck, book in for your ergonomic assessment today!

💡 In Conclusion

Neck pain can often take us down silently and quickly! BOOM. There you have it. You wake up and you’re struggling to look over your shoulder, and even walk around!

However, let it be known that there are ways to help prevent the likelihood of neck pain, with a wide selection of areas you can give your time, attention and determination to.

If you haven’t had neck pain, act NOW to help prevent this through looking at sleep, exercise, lifting techniques, desk set up and more. For those proactive among you, and if I were in your position, I would take on board the advice above, and book a Physio Consult to complete a body MOT on you. If you have chronic neck pain, then we have seen lots of this, in regards to treating it and reducing pain in the neck.


If you are unsure if you need Physiotherapy, or if Online Physiotherapy can assist you with your neck pain, then we are currently offering a free 15-minute screening call, in which you can book in on the link.  Or, if you need urgent Physio advice and attention then book in below.

Any questions, or thoughts on this blog, we would LOVE to hear from you. Send us a message here.

If you are in pain, or have an injury book yourself in below to start your recovery today!

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