Neck Injuries & Stiff Necks in Wrestling


Some sports -- such as soccer -- are contact sports. Others, like football, are collision sports -- they encourage even rougher physical impacts between competitors. Wrestling actually qualifies as a combat sport. In combat sports, two athletes use their physical strength directly against each other, attempting to force the other into a scoring position. You cannot avoid injuries in combat sports, with dings to the neck especially common.

How They Happen

Most soreness comes from simple overexertion of the muscles on your neck. In a wrestling match, you can expect to have your neck pulled on, pushed, used as a lever and occasionally squeezed from two or more sides. This leads to muscle strain, pulls and sprains. A good coach drills his wrestlers on exercises to strengthen their necks. But the neck isn't always be able to keep up with the demands the sport places on it.

Immediate Treatment

If your neck is sore after a match, the sooner you get ice on it, the better. Much of the pain and stiffness from a minor neck injury comes from inflammation, a process that relies on rapid blood flow to the injured area. Ice constricts your blood vessels and slows down blood flow, thus slowing or reversing inflammation. Your coach or athletic trainer should have ice or a chemical cold pack available at an instant's notice.

Long-term Treatment

A sore neck from overexertion, pulls or minor sprains can last for days or weeks after your match. Regular ice and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help ease the pain and reduce the amount of time you spend healing.

Major Injuries

Although rare, major neck trauma does happen on wrestling mats every year. If your neck pain feels sharp or like a throbbing ache, or is accompanied by shooting pains, numbness or tingling, see a doctor immediately. If possible, avoid moving until you get checked by a medical professional. Moving a badly injured neck can cause further damage, leading to possible paralysis and death.

Perform Prevention Drills

A strong neck is the best defense against neck injuries from wrestling. During practice, work on neck training drills such as bridges and partner-assisted pressing drills. Even though these are some of the more challenging training methods, they can be among the most important.