Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How to Treat Belayer’s Neck

October 26, 2020

How many times have you seen someone whose posture looks like this while belaying?

Neck pain is a common in rock climbers. Although climbing itself can lead to neck pain, the most common cause is spending prolonged periods belaying. We refer to this as “belayer’s neck”.

Belayer’s neck is a colloquial term to describe a collection of impairments that cause pain when belaying. Many people have this posture without current pain, but these impairments can lead to future neck pain.
Common impairments include: forward rounded shoulders, forward head posture, a hinge point in the neck joints, excessive thoracic kyphosis and stiffness through the thoracic spine. See photo above.
The first line solution is to focus on your posture while belaying: maintain and upright posture, look upward using your whole neck not just tilting your head, keep your shoulders pulled back, and take frequent breaks and regularly change your head/neck position. Or use a pair of prism belaying glasses.

The second line solution is to perform specific exercises to correct the impairments associated with belayer’s neck. Try the following exercises that are specifically designed for people with belayer’s neck. For more exercises specific to rock climbers click here to find climbing-specific strengthening and injury prevention exercises that you can perform self-guided with an easy to use app.