Neck pain and difficulty turning

To follow with my previous post about form and function, I wanted to discuss the problems with neck pain and spasm with difficulty turning the head. Often I might find that there is an imbalance with the shoulders and that the neck is extending the twisting to compensate so that you are looking straight forward. This reaction is subconscious and we don’t realize that we are doing it. We only know that our neck really hurts.

My job would be to help to realign the vertebrae in the neck using tissue release and other techniques to allow the movement necessary to return the neck to it’s original position but also to consider why the shoulders are out of position, forcing the neck to do what it is doing to compensate. There may be something further down that is pulling the shoulders out of position, so we chase the cause as far as it goes so that the trigger doesn’t pull your neck out of position again. As in my last post, part of the success is me and part will be the patient as we stretch, strengthen and create awareness of what they might be doing that causes the trigger to re-occur. Some triggers are completely avoidable, and some are only modifiable (if that’s a real word). It is very difficult to stop doing what we might have been doing for years and years so we need to use discomfort as a reminder that we have fallen into this pattern again. Pain isn’t such a bad thing if we know what it means and how we can change to reduce it.

I have seen a cases where there is a fallen arch in the right foot. This translates to the right pelvis being rotated forward, pulling the whole body forward and turned to the left, so the right low back tightens the pull the body back up right. It often might go too far so that the left shoulder is forward and higher than the right shoulder so your head is tilted to the right. The left neck muscles tighten to pull the head so it is level (subconscious righting mechanism) so the vertebrae in the neck are compressed on the left and open and unstable on the right with there being a possibility of pain occurring on either side for different reasons.

This whole thing can cause foot, knee, hip, low-mid back, shoulder and/or neck pain just because of one little fallen arch. If I only look at your neck, I’m probably not doing you a favour. We need to look at the whole body to see the general picture.

Crazy these bodies we have.

Effective Hip Stretches

I’ve found a web page which has a great hip flexor and hip stretch. I like it as it goes through 3 main types of stretches with good discussion about stretching only to the level that is good with you and that the stretches are held for a long period of time. I always believe that a stretch needs to be held for at least 2 minutes for the tissue to remain in the stretched position. This is a really good long deep stretch.

I believe that when beginning a stretch program, you almost need to do it religiously for at least 2 weeks to a month without expectation of results, as sometimes it takes that long, therefore there isn’t an disappointment for lack of progress during the beginning.

The teacher in the video has been doing this for a long time so don’t be disappointed if you can’t stretch as well as he. Just be patient and stretch as your level. Once a day is nice. Watch some t.v. while you do it. Click on “web page” on the first line of my entry or go to:

Enjoy!!

Form and Function

A really important philosophy that I follow with my treatment is simply to help to return the body back to position in which it is supposed to be in. In this position, the muscles aren’t working hard to hold up the body (as they would be if the body is out of balance) and all the joints and tissue are soft enough that the body moves well in the planes that they are intended to move. If I have someone come in with discomfort, I am aware of the symptoms, but I take myself back to this philosophy with the confidence in the body’s natural ability to self-heal when it is in its optimal position. My success with patients in the past reveals that half the success is what I do and the other half is home care and self awareness of posture to maintain the progression during the last treatment and help the body to normalize to this “new” optimal position.

Being out of position can occur from the feet up to the head. Maybe your foot is rotated out, your pelvis is turned one way or the other. Perhaps the low back had too much of an inward curve or the mid back has too much of an outward curve, or the right shoulder is turned in too much. When things like the above happen, the body is working hard elsewhere to bring the body back up so that you’re not leaning in one direction or another.

I find this philosophy has applied especially to the way that shoulders may be pulled out of position by upper back, and how neck pain occurs due to misaligned shoulders and low back pain reacts to mispositioned pelvis. If your neck hurts, then you don’t connect it to shoulder position. If your back hurts, then you wouldn’t think “hmm, my pelvis may be out of position”. That’s my job. My job, essentially, is to say “hey, your back hurts, and this is what I’m seeing. You should be in this position. I’m going to loosen tissues to make this position easier for you and give you stretches and strengthening exercises so that this good position is easier to hold. And were going to focus on things that you do during the day, that can be contributing to your issues to see what can be changed or altered”. Patient knowledge and education is so important so that you know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Otherwise home care and exercises don’t mean anything and you may end up not doing them as you’re not making the connection.