Stretch that Neck

Are you slumped over a desk quite often or are you seeing children doing nothing but starring down at their electronic devices? Most likely work and wondering what is all that going to do to the health of their body in the long term or to your own body when you get home for the evening and your neck upper back and lower back are sore. On increasing basis I am seeing more and more people come in with these two problems that have a similar yet simple solution. And I will say that it's not about telling people how to live their lives it is more about working with the situation as it currently stands. So let's talk for a moment about what this really is and what is not.


The modern world is very much a lean forward society. What this has created over the last few hundred years has been an epidemic of people who feel pain in the upper neck and back also including the shoulder blades themselves. This is the result of leaning forward and bending the head downward towards the chest more often than not raining the head upwards towards the sky. As a result of many people make the mistake of the game or muscles especially in their neck and shoulders are just tight or as I often hear it "I carry all my tension in my neck and shoulders”.


The truth is that in almost all cases that a client brings to me of tightness or pain in the neck and shoulders it is that the muscles located in and around the neck and shoulders are being stretched like a trampoline instead of overworked. Think of it this way: if you were to take a plastic bag and place it into a firm grip in one hand and then place the other end of the bag into perhaps a Workmans device and start pulling it eventually what you would find is the areas are most stretch near the anchoring points not where you are pulling the bag with your hands. This analogy works very well because it mimics almost exactly what the human body is doing internally.


When we lean forward so often and use our hands and arms to perform task directly in front of us the muscles in the front of the neck and tectorial muscles in the front of the chest stir to shrink because the body gets the message that they do not need to go to their full range of motion because that's not what we are demanding of them. As a result the body starts to reduce the muscle mass and length of each muscle in the front of the body. Most often they can be felt in the scalene muscles of the neck and as well in the pectoral muscles. As a result of the shrinking mass the muscles on the shoulders in the back of the neck are pulled forward and stretched like a piece of canvas leading people to believe that the muscles are tight as in they are knotted up. This might sound like semantics but to someone who is trying to figure out how to help someone that can be somewhat deceiving which means that diagnostic palpation is always required to verify what someone is saying compared to what their body is saying.


So when the opening paragraph I discussed that there would be a simple thing you can do to help deal with this problem and here it is: we must simply learn to stretch the muscles in the front of the body back out more often which would tell the body that it can indeed function within the full range of motion. This is achieved through subtle reminders and exercises completed by a client between appointments. The reason that I often give people homework in this regard has to do with the idea that if someone is willing to do some of the work at home it makes the time they spend with me more valuable because then I can tackle the bigger issues in that area that require my special skills. It also allows me enough time to investigate other areas of the body that may be of interest to the client.

The most simple stretch I can provide people is to simply lay on the edge of the bed and place their head on the edge of the bed in such a location as to line up directly with the point of the skull meeting the spinal column. Go back approximately the length of your index finger and keep your head perpendicular to the sailing you're looking at in front of you. If you wish to enhance the stretch put out your arms straight out to your side. Move your head slowly over a period of approximately two months all the way off the side of the mattress. Is important to remember that in this particular stretch want to make sure that your only holding that straits position for 30 or so seconds it does no one any good to overstretch the area so quickly. Over the period of approximately 30 to 60 days the particle get the message that those muscles need to lengthen that are short in the front of the body and neck. This will then intern slowly release pressure from the neck and shoulders. 


For some individuals they may still have their full range of motion and the stress and tension they feel in there tissue is simply a psychological stress reaction manifested in the physical tissue. This is far more rare than people anticipate and should be treated as such that means during a bodywork session it is often a good idea to have some time to simply relax. I do offer many of my clients the ability to do a meditation massage service which is a guided meditation done during the massage to allow those physical stress reactions to stop for a duration of time during the service which will make my job much easier and make people feel much more comfortable. These manifested physical stress reactions are major problem in the sense that if people make the assumption that it is all a physical problem then they never address the psychological one that is causing it. A sure sign that this is a psychological causes in my opinion is simply asking yourself how are you sleep at night. If people in general have a problem sleeping at night and there is not a physical problem involved then it's typically a psychological problem of their brain slowing down and allowing them to sleep.


If you have enjoyed this blog post please make to follow the blog post whatever it is found including my website or if you have any additional questions please contact me at