My neck and shoulders ache after sailing, what can I do?

May 3, 2019

Neck and Shoulder Tension when Sailing

We have recently seen an influx of sailors presenting with neck and shoulder pain, with the sailing season in full swing we have been able to help ease tension aches and pains.

Why are sailors/windsurfers/kitesurfers getting pain?

We have found a lot of the problems have been postural. Due to repetitive stress of the neck muscles caused by holding your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time. Excessive amounts of tension are created in the deep muscles of your neck and across the shoulders leading to neck pain. Headaches have also been linked to this condition.

What Causes of Postural Neck Discomfort/Tension?

Poor posture. The average weight of your head is 5Kg which makes up 8% of the whole body mass. That is a lot of weight that the neck muscles and ligaments need to move and support! The weight of the head dramatically increases if you get into poor postures. As much as 6 times the force can be generated if the neck is not in a neutral position (same weight of an average 8 year old).

(Surgical Technology International)

Signs and Symptoms of Neck and Shoulder Pain

  • Upper back or neck pain
  • Aching or sharp pain in the neck
  • General shoulder pain and tightness
  • Headaches which are aggravated when looking down

The main aims of treatment are to reduce the pain in the neck, the tightness within the neck muscles, and change the postures that aggravate your symptoms.

This is achieved by:

  • Joint mobilisations
  • Sports massage
  • Stretches
  • Postural advice
  • Neural mobilisations
  • Soft tissue release
  • Ergonomic advice
  • Education
  • Exercises
  • Having regular breaks from your workstation every 20 minutes
  • Acupuncture

Some exercises to improve posture and reduce tension in the upper neck/shoulder muscles are listed below.

Please be aware of your body and take advice from your GP before exercising if you have any aches or pains or send me an email for advice and guidance.

Cervical Spine Retraction

  • Sit up tall
  • Keeping your eyes looking forwards
  • Tuck your chin to your chest (make a double chin)
  • Hold 5 seconds, repeat ten times, two times a day

Upper Trapezius Stretch

  • Tilt your head
  • Use your hand to gently pull your head across
  • Hold 30 seconds, repeat two times, two times a day on each side


Levator Scapula Stretch

  • Tilt and rotate your head
  • Next look down towards your hip
  • Use your hand to gently pull your head across and down
  • Hold 30 seconds, repeat two times, two times a day on each side


If you are suffering from tension / niggling neck or shoulder pain then please get in contact with us via, 07835 712306 or book online as we can help release off the tight muscles to help ease your neck and shoulder pain.

Please also see our YouTube channel where we demonstrate these exercises, please subscribe to our channel as we are always adding new videos for different injuries.

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