Prevention is better than cure
When it comes to belayers neck prevention is better than cure
The best remedy is to not belay, the next best, is to not look up. At first glance, neither of these are really an option while on a climbing trip.
So here are some belayers neck ache prevention tips:
Change your footing. This is not always possible, we know. However, when you change your footing or position you can change the angle of the neck while still keeping an eye on your partner, this means you get to strain different muscles, and so it's not just the one set of muscles that have to take the burden.
Motion is lotion. The real problem is keeping your neck locked in one "hyperextended" position just a little bit of movement will give the affected muscles a chance to relax and re-adjust. Just be careful to keep an eye on your partner while you do it. :) Often, it's best to do this when they stop to have a rest and just give your neck a quick side to side, and back forth, maybe a quick "Fresh Prince Head roll" (You know when he knocks on the door at the end of the opening video?) - Please let us know if you get the reference?
Get some balls. Two tennis balls in a sock can be really helpful for both back and neck pain. Lie on your back and position each ball (in the sock) under your stiff muscles. Gently massage the affected area or lie on particularly stiff areas to help the muscles relax. Pay attention to the “pain,” you get, as is generally the rule, If it’s acute and unbearable, stop, rest and maybe call it a day. Otherwise, this should leave you feeling like you've just had a good massage.
Take breaks between belays. Just as you take breaks between climbs, take a break between belays to move your neck around, get your balls out (The sock and tennis balls mentioned earlier), and generally stretch off. It's not rocket science. :)
Strengthen your deep neck flexors. A stronger neck is less likely to get hurt, and so practice chin tucks at home. Sit or stand upright and pull your head back to create a double chin effect. Don’t look around, just pull your head back. Do this for 3 sets of 15 - 20 reps, and you'll notice the difference over time.
Tooling. We rely on kit to keep us out of trouble in all other areas of climbing, and there are tools for your neck ache too! They're called belay glasses and are designed to direct your field of vision upwards so that you can see up without tilting your head back. Thus keep your neck in a natural and less painful position. Belay Glasses are a bit of a law unto themselves, with some titanium ultralight options getting up to £100+, all the way to Climbing Frogs own Belay glasses at £29.99 with free shipping. (You can check them out here)
When the name of the game is keeping your neck in good shape, so you can keep climbing hard for longer, £29.99 seems like a good investment to us. :~)<a href="https://climbingfrog.myshopify.com/cart/26882848967:1" target="_blank">Buy Climbing Frog Belay Glasses</a>