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Stress or lack of sleep causing knots in the upper body muscles

By Jason Makoutz, DPT

Neck pain and neck injuries are some of the most common reasons we see patients at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center. Whether the cause be from a specific injury or incident or due to poor posture. Some common ailments related to the neck that we see include tight/overworked muscles, headaches, osteoarthritis, joint stiffness, and whiplash. All of these can cause pain, weakness, and decrease ability to perform everyday activities.

Common Causes of Neck Injury:

  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Poor posture/ergonomics
  • Weak musculature
  • Poor sleep positioning
  • Stress

Neck pain can present itself in many different ways. You may first notice pain/tightness when turning your head in certain directions. Then it may progress to where you start to lose range of motion. Range of motion loss is often first seen when driving and it becomes difficult to look over shoulder when changing lanes. Sometimes neck pain can manifest itself in tension headaches. You may feel the headaches on the top of your head and even into your forehead. The most common perpetrators of the tension headaches are the upper trapezius and Levator Scapulae. They refer pain to your head which is why you experience the tension headaches. This can become a vicious cycle because stress can exacerbate the symptoms and as you get stressed your pain will continue to increase, causing more stress.

During a motor vehicle accident, no matter which direction you are hit from it is common to experience whiplash. Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck like a cracking whip. The muscles are generally over stretched and become strained. It may not hurt at first, but over the next couple of days the pain and stiffness increase, until it becomes quite debilitating.

Don’t wait to let the pain progress to headaches and affect your daily activities/work, seek help. Physical Therapy is an effective conservative way to relieve your neck pain and help you return to the activities you enjoy doing pain free. At Loudoun Sports Therapy center one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy will take you through a thorough evaluation to determine where the pain is coming from and how to treat it. They will talk to you about your daily activities and what leisure/work activities you’d like to get back doing. That could be anything from sleeping through the entire night pain free to returning to jiu-jitsu or even playing guitar. We will be able to get you out of the vicious cycle of pain.

When I was going through Physical Therapy School I often developed severe neck pain and tension headaches due to staring at a computer and studying every day. I had a few tricks that often helped me break the pain cycle.

Jason’s Neck Quick Routine


  • Tennis Ball Trigger Point Release
  • Chin Tucks
  • Upper Trap Stretch
  • Levator Scap Stretch
  • Chin Tuck Rotations with Head Nod


If you or someone you know has experienced or is currently experiencing any of these issues or just have generally aches/pain in your neck call our office today at 703-450-4300. We can evaluate you and determine what steps you need to take to return back to your pain free life!

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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