Why Do My Shoulders And Neck Feel So Much Stiffer In Winter?

Picture this: it’s 7:00 am and your alarm is yelling at you. You roll over to turn it off like you always do when suddenly you feel a sharp pain in your neck. Now you are no longer able to turn your head without sending bolts of pain up your neck to your head. OR maybe you just wake up and feel like your muscles have been replaced with rocks and your joints with gravel? This feeling doesn’t ease up much as the day goes by causing you to feel stiff and immobile – making you even less inclined to get to the gym for fear of making it ‘worse’.

Sound familiar? Especially in Winter?

My patients often ask me, “why is it I feel so much stiffer in Winter?”

Many studies have been conducted on the correlation between muscle and joint pain and the cold weather. Although there is still much research to be undertaken, there are a few common theories that keep arising…

  • Lack of movement: When it is cold and raining outside, the last thing many of us want to do is leave our nice warm houses and offices and go for a run! As the cold continues, motivation dwindles and suddenly we haven’t been to the gym in months.
  • Posture: Do you ever find yourself waiting at the train station or walking to your car when a particularly cold gust of wind comes along? Automatically you elevate your shoulders up to your ears and retract your neck, causing you to resemble a hunchback turtle as you continue on your way!
  • Vasoconstriction: This lengthy word is merely referring to your blood vessels tightening to minimise blood flowing to limbs, ie. legs, neck and arms. It is thought that this occurs as a way for the body to keep your core toasty in winter.
  • Changes in the atmosphere: When the temperature drops, the gases and fluids inside our joints (such as shoulders) can be affected by the atmospheric pressure, causing joints to change their shapes and structures.

Why Do My Shoulder Hurt In Winter

So, now you know why you’re feeling that bit more stiff at this time of year… what can you do about it?

  • Be aware of your shoulder positioning: if they’re up around your ears then bring them back down.
  • Rug up: consider wrapping a nice warm scarf around that cold neck to avoid the previously mentioned ‘hunchback turtle’ look.
  • Heat and Stretch: Place a heat pack draped over your shoulders and/or neck.
  • Perform a gentle stretch by bringing your ear down towards your armpit: keeping your shoulder still. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat.
  • Changes in the atmosphere: When the temperature drops, the gases and fluids inside our joints (such as shoulders) can be affected by the atmospheric pressure, causing joints to change their shapes and structures.
  • Get a treatment: Myotherapy is great for stiff necks and shoulders. By targeting the soft tissue, or muscles, of the neck, shoulders, arms and back, we can help alleviate your pain and get you back to being active and happy.


So next time you wake up feeling stiff and crunchy – give one (or all!) of these tips a try!

What our clients are saying about us

Bree BrittBree Britt
05:41 22 May 24
Mehar was fabulous! Not only was she warm, welcoming and funny, but professional and thorough.From the moment I walked in I felt well supported. She was able to identify what was going on, factoring in older ailments, and provide me with a treatment plan and options.Her focus was on sustainable changes and support moving forward, and I had a written plan and clear explanations and clarifications on everything. I never felt like she was encouraging me to need to come back unnecessarily.It took a few visits, and each time was met with the same warmth and professionalism. I got consistent progress and feel so much better now, even though it's a few months on from when I last saw her.It's very clear she is wonderful at what she does, thinks about the whole person and I would definitely recommend her to others considering needing podiatry support.
Rose StewartRose Stewart
02:32 14 May 24
The whole client therapist experience has been amazing. My Myotherapist provided me with a detailed plan to ensure my progress to meet my goals as well as addressing my issues of pain.Each follow up session is reviewed, discussed and any changes added/deleted or modified.The timely reminders and follow up from the clinic and experience with the Client Experience Officers have been always polite and friendly.
Patrick MonahanPatrick Monahan
00:37 13 May 24
Mehar Sandhu has been an absolute delight. She is very professional in her treatment and most personable and friendly to deal with.
Yolanda OppyYolanda Oppy
03:13 10 May 24
Ezyk ArtistEzyk Artist
00:07 19 Apr 24
I've been coming here exclusively since my first consultation. I've had constant shoulder and arm pain from my line of work; the exercises my physio, Carina provided are easy to remember, not time consuming and super effective!Bonus: the space feels super clean and calming - highly recommend coming here
Natasha KhongNatasha Khong
23:58 22 Mar 24
I had a great experience here. The gym was well equipped and the atmosphere of the clinic was amazing. I had Carina, who was very knowledgeable about my injury and helped construct a great solution plan! Her manner was beautiful and she had great energy. Definitely recommend!
Annabel ChandlerAnnabel Chandler
20:28 14 Mar 24
I’ve been seeing Talia for a few weeks now for treatment on my shoulder bursitis. From day 1 she was great! She explained everything about my condition to me and what she wanted to do which helped me visualise my own recovery. Could not recommend her enough.
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