24-05-2021 / Mental Health and Wellness

How to treat stress related tension in your Neck and Shoulders

Stress can affect many functions of the human body. Majority of the people suffering from stress experience tension in the neck and shoulder region. Here are the causes, symptoms, and treatment of stress-related tension

Stress related pain in your neck and shoulder
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed
Mazia Ahmed
MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar
Medically Cited
Fact Checked

Table of Contents


  • Being a developing country, India faces a lot of challenges in coping with the competition that prevails at the international level. With the advent of many Multinational Companies, the level of competition among the population has widened as everybody is eager to make their mark. The country's work culture has transformed during the last few decades as people are inclined towards their work. Such a level of competition can also be seen in the educational sector among the students of even lower age groups.

  • Stress has become an indispensable part of our lives in the present era that means experiencing a little stress can be good concerning the personal dimension. Still, the actual problem arises when a person experiences stress for a longer period and the degree of pain exceeds the bearable limit. Doing strenuous physical activities and similar movements for quite a long time causes tension in the concerned body parts.

  • Be it business, jobs, household chores, or educational fields, the people of India are engaged in a competition to prove themselves better. The massive population of the country can be stated as one of the reasons for increased competition. But do we realize the cost that most of us unintentionally pay to stay ahead in our respective careers? A large number of people have become prey to several health diseases. These diseases and unhealthy disorders have become indispensable parts of our lives. We must realize the importance of our health and take every necessary step to proceed in our careers so that nothing gets compromised.

  • The article talks about the most common condition which has affected the people around the earth: STRESS! Stress shouldn’t be taken lightly as it gives birth to several other diseases, among which many can come out to be severe.

  • The people who have fallen prey to this evil called stress face many consequences as this condition affects many human body functions. Stress alone can cause chronic complications in body parts. Majority of the people who are suffering from stress experience tension in several organs, among which the most common ones are tension in the neck and shoulder.

Stress in Indian Population Infographic

The linkage between Stress and Human Body

Muscle tensions can be in several forms like pain, stiffness, tightened feeling, etc. Let us analyze it more deeply by understanding the connection between these two and how stress affects the neck and shoulder. The mechanism of stress can be explained in a way that the muscles of the human body respond according to the degree of the stress, i.e., the body muscles contract when a person is under great stress or anxiety. A person has no control over the body when it reacts this way as it is the autonomous action of the body. Mental anxiety and stress affect the body muscles, and in the majority of cases, the human spine is adversely affected, which gives rise to tension in the shoulder and neck. Aching neck and painful shoulder can lead to extreme irritation as well as fatigue in the human body.

Causes of Stress

So far, we are aware of this consequence of stress in which the body parts face aching and tension. Let us now understand how stress can specifically affect the shoulder and neck. Stress broadens the blood vessels that promote the flow of oxygen to the body parts. This makes the muscles stiff around the neck and shoulders too. The body area/muscle that connects the neck with the shoulder is called Trapezius or simply Traps and is adversely affected during such complications. This makes a person only move the neck and shoulder within a limited range. This may sound like any normal ache, but many times the degree of pain becomes unbearable. The root causes of stress are very subjective, and people have different reasons for it. The most common reasons for stress are:

  • Over Expectation

  • Massive pressure

  • Big challenges on the professional front

  • Overthinking

  • Personal life hurdles

  • Increased competition

  • Extreme worrying, etc.

4 Common Symptoms of Stress

Coming to the neck and shoulder part of the discussion, how can one know that the tension in the neck and shoulder is due to stress only? For curing such situations, we first must know that stress is the actual cause of muscle tension in the shoulder & neck. Here are some of the common symptoms of stress and anxiety:

1. Excessive Sweating

More than normal sweating in certain situations is an indicator of being a victim of stress. Irrelevant sweating shows that a person is under extreme pressure and must calm down to a controlled level.

2. Rapid Heart Rate

Heart Disease

Faster blood pressure and heart rate are the common symbols of anxiety. People under pressure or overly worried about certain things are prone to be affected by uncontrolled heart rate.

3. Difficulty Breathing

Stress and anxiety sometimes cause panic among the people, which makes it tough for him/them to breathe smoothly.

4. Stiff Muscles

The body muscles get stiff and tightened in such situations. The shoulder and neck move in a limited degree that too in a steady manner, making it difficult to do the smoother and swifter movement in these body parts.

All the above-stated symptoms are caused due to improper mental conditions. There are several examples/situations of anxiety and stress like nearing examination result date among students, fluctuation of a concerned stock price among stockbrokers, etc. In such situations, the body muscles get into a tightened position instead of the existing relaxed condition. While the shoulder and neck are prone to get affected by the stress, it can massively affect the back. Conditions like cervical, migraine, severe headaches, etc., are examples of worsened situations due to stress.

Many people around the world are facing such situations, but not all of them are informed about its appropriate treatment12345. Let us talk about the number of ways to treat the tension in the neck and shoulder aroused due to stress. Following are some of the tested means to cure such situations:

1. Exercise

Doing basic exercises and sufficient physical movement during our daily regimes have no substitute for attaining good health. Exercises for treating the stress-based tension in the shoulder and neck are many, but one has to choose among the selected ones which suit him/her the best.

2. Neck Exercises

Neck Exercise

Stretching your neck within limits can help you relieve severe neck pain. There are several exercises involving the neck that can help you ease the pain. Neck release is a common exercise in this aspect and has shown assured results among people suffering from shoulder & neck tension. Seated Neck Stretch, Chin to Chest Stretch, etc., can be done regularly for faster results.

3. Acupuncture

It greatly helps in controlling the neck tension by pressing some specific points to release the pain. The history of acupuncture can be traced back to the old Chinese era.

4. Massage

Getting a massage from a professional is highly beneficial in such conditions. Cold and Hot massages have significant benefits in curing shoulder/neck complications. The neck is one of the complex parts of the human body as it connects the brain to the spine. Self-massage and techniques like aromatherapy can help you get rid of the shoulder/neck tensions. Physiotherapy under the guidance of an expert practitioner can be incredibly beneficial as it involves tested pieces of machinery.

4. Yoga

Regular Exercises and Yoga

Yoga is an underrated activity in India despite its birth in the country itself. Power yoga and meditation are the proven remedies to cure stress and the tension/pain in body parts. Chakravakasana, Balasana, etc., are the well-known poses of yoga that help in eliminating pain. Meditating for some minutes can ease down the stress level in humans. Yoga is the easiest way to make the shoulder/neck tension go away.

5. Posture

Posture plays an important role in keeping the body parts intact. Many of us have a poor sleeping/sitting posture that makes a person vulnerable to neck and shoulder tensions.

6. Lifestyle and Habits

Lifestyle habits

Lifestyle and daily habits play an essential role in maintaining stress. A lot of people work for several hours that are beyond human abilities. They push themselves and their body to a level which makes their personal lives at stake. Apart from it, evils like cigarette smoking, alcohol, excessive caffeine, disturbed sleeping cycles, etc., are common reasons for increased stress in almost every generation of the present era. Make sure to get enough sleep (average 8 hours) and eat a balanced diet regularly. Include at least 30 minutes of physical exercise in your daily regime along with meditation.

7. Medication

The last option is always medicine when things are way out of hand. Try not to depend totally on the medicines for staying stress/pain-free. Many people have a habit of staying normal by continuously taking medicines that make them stay awake for a more extended period. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are among the well-known medicines for this purpose as excessive steroids can harm the human body.

Word of Wisdom

Stress can be eliminated by simply following healthy habits and ensuring that the medical practitioner must be consulted if the stress reaches a higher level. Try following some of the remedies discussed above and experience quick results.


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