This is really a pain in the neck! | Nose Creek Physiotherapy
Blair Schachterle Health Tips

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This is really a pain in the neck!

Most people suffer from tension in their necks and shoulders at some point in their lives, which is hardly surprising if you consider the job the neck has to do.  Poor posture, bad working positions and carrying heavy bags all contribute to making the problem worse.

Most of us have experienced this pain – your day is going along fine, when all of a sudden a headache starts coming on. It’s easy to take an over-the-counter pain medication and feel better, but there are options to address the cause of the problem. Some headaches may be caused by a stressful work day or a reaction to things such as a light that is too bright, bothersome fumes or mechanical strain.

“For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” -Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

With proper posture the average head weighs about 12 pounds, and muscle imbalances can cause a head to be offset by 3 inches forward of the shoulders. The head now seems to weigh 42 pounds with the neck muscles fighting against the force of gravity (Fig. 1).

The neck is sturdy, but has a flexible system of muscles, ligaments and fascia that provides support for the 12 pound head. These muscles allow flexion, extension, rotation and side bending in a variety of combinations. When something goes wrong the neck becomes painful, resulting in devastating and widespread effects.

Massage techniques are used to effectively lengthen shortened or tight muscles, while strengthening exercises help the weak tissues.

As the brain senses weaknesses in an area, it recruits surrounding muscles to guard the area, so that further irritation to nerves housed in the spine is prevented.

When tight muscles are the source of neck pain, techniques such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy, assisted stretching and various deep tissue modalities can be used to lengthen tight, short muscles. 

Joint dysfunction plays an important role in the development of muscle spasm and related myofascial pain syndromes. A relationship exists between muscles and joints. Long-term chronic neck pain seems to be primarily caused by facet joint sticking in the spine. A second major contributor to recurrent neck pain is bone-spurring in the structures that guide the nerve roots away from the spine.

To help with tight neck issues and headaches, Ayurvedic head massage is one of the most relaxing types of massage. The techniques of this type of head massage are combined with a shoulder massage for relaxation to the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and head, which can be very useful in bringing relief to chronic and acute headaches.

As well as providing a deep state of relaxation, Ayurvedic head massage also helps to relieve stress. The lymphatic system is stimulated which encourages the release of toxins from the body.
Come and try out a massage for your Christmas aches at our physiotherapy clinic in Calgary NW & NE  (587.333.3229), ask for Paul who would be happy to help you with headache relief.


Blair Schachterle
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