Neck strain is often just called whiplash. Although it’s usually associated with car accidents, any impact or blow that causes your head to jerk forward or backward can cause neck strain. The sudden force stretches and tears the muscles and tendons in your neck. Neck strain afflicts many athletes, especially those playing contact sports. The symptoms of whiplash include, pain, tenderness, decreased range of motion, and tightness in the neck. The muscles may feel hard or knotted. Headaches at the base of the skull that radiate towards the forehead are also common.