The demands of life can cause undue stress on our bodies. As some stress is good, too much can lead to an array of physical problems. Naturally, high blood pressure, heart attacks' and stroke would come to mind as a result to stress. While those problems could be long term possibilities, the most immediate reaction is tightness in the neck. It's a natural defense mechanism of your body. When encountering stress, anxiety, severe cold, you clench your teeth and ever so slightly raise your shoulders to your ears. Constant tightening of those muscles create an overuse pattern that leads to a cycle of pain and discomfort. Ever wake up one day with a pounding headache, sharp pain in your arms and shoulders holding an empty bottle of aspirin while field mice are running out of your living room with your flat screen T.V. on their backs? So you know what I mean then. Tight neck (scalenes, levator scapula) and trapezius muscles affect the muscles around your cranium but also inhibit the muscles around the scapula from performing correctly. Now that the cervical spine is out of alignment and your scapula can't support your upper body movements, headaches and nerve impingements are down the road.
The secret lies in organic almond butter. The Romans knew the almond as the "Greek nut" in reference to the first nation to have cultivated this snack of wonders. The almond is high in monousaturated fat...good fats. In combination with vitamin E, LDL (Bad Cholesterol) can be significantly lowered. So by spreading almond butter at the base of your neck with 1Tb of raw honey...
Just kidding! Foam roll and stretch! C'mon now! Though almond butter is great, I'm not sure if it can help neck pain. If you don't have time to see a physical therapist or massage therapist use these moves to give you immediate relief.
It doesn't matter if you do it yourself or hire a specialist to do it for you.. Your muscles need to be re-educated. Adhesions/knots that develop in tight and weak muscles prevent those muscles from ever functioning optimally. When using a roller, apply slow and continuous pressure in long strokes then find tender spots and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
MÜV 1-Loosen up the trapezoids and activate the rhomboids! (not terms used on a sailboat)
- Place roll on upper back
- Pick up hips and roll only on the upper back, not lower
- Finish off as pictured dropping hips and mobilizing the spine
MÜV 2-Loosen up the lats and activate other scapular stabilizers
- Place roll by armpit as pictured
- Roll Up and down lat behind rib cage
- Focus right around the shoulder joint as well
Doing the foam roll is not enough, trigger points and knots will come back if you don't stretch or are not aware of your posture. If you can take a yoga class that would be fantastic, but here are some stretches that will focus at the problem at hand. When performing stretches, go to the point of resistance then go only a couple of degrees past that. There is such a thing as overstretching. There will be slight discomfort but no pain.
MÜV 3-Neck 1
- Grab the side of your head with the hand opposite of the side to be stretched
- Keep the same side shoulder down by turning the arm out and down
- Pull ear to opposite shoulder
MÜV 4-Neck 2
- Grab the back corner of your head
- Turn your head as pictured and pull chin down toward chest
- Keep the opposite shoulder down
- Use a stability ball or chair and place the whole forearm on it
- Make sure your forearm stays parallel to the floor
- Keeping back flat, pull stretched shoulder down and away from chair/ball
- Using ball or chair, keep thumbs up toward ceiling and place forearms
- Roll ball forward or sit back onto your heels
- To increase range of motion switch to doing one arm at a time
Perform the 6 moves in order once or twice a day everyday as needed. Try to remain active to keep muscles activated and maintain a healthy heart. You can get foam rolls at www.power-systems.com or contact me!