Give chilly days the cold shoulder – practical tips to prevent neck and shoulder pain

Almost every cold snap in the weather sees an increase of clients who book in for a massage to remedy neck and shoulder pain. It’s an interesting phenomenon that got us thinking, why?


How does cold weather cause neck and shoulder pain?

A drop in temperature does not cause our muscles to ache. However, our response to cold or wind chills can cause us to develop muscle spasm, aches, and pain. We’ve all done it, haven’t we? When we feel a brisk wind blowing, we somehow respond by raising our shoulders up close to our ears. As if that is going to cause the temperature to rise!


What can we do to prevent the cold from triggering neck and shoulder pain?

The pain is usually caused when we tense our muscles to brace the cold feeling. This results in overworked muscles that either go into spasm and begin a pain cycle, or fail to relax afterwards and the nerves, vessels, and tissues become compressed with tightness. We know that remedial massage helps to reverse these symptoms… but what about preventing them from occurring?

The best prevention is:

  1. To dress appropriate to the weather. Clothing that warms the neck is the best. If the cold air doesn’t blow directly onto the neck, there is less chance that you will feel the need to protect yourself from the cold through muscle guarding.
  2. To keep your shoulders relaxed. This requires awareness and discipline. Tensing your shoulders doesn’t make you feel any warmer, it just risks muscle overuse and delayed onset of pain. Relaxing your wrists, elbows, and shoulders while breathing deeply is a powerful preventative. It reverses the tension that may have built up before you noticed your subconscious bracing action. This does take discipline and faith but can result in the bonus of enjoying a meditative state as you await the next tube to arrive.


We appreciate that it is easy to get caught out by the cold and suffer stiff neck or sore muscle symptoms. We are here to help. A course of sessions with one of our therapists will aim to reverse pain, increase your body awareness, and keep you fighting fit to handle anything that winter can throw at you.