That pain in the neck

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Ever have a pain in the neck that ISN’T your job or significant other that won’t go away?

When clients come in for a massage therapy session, the common pain areas treated are their neck and shoulders. Rarely have I seen balanced, pain free, and “normal” necks and shoulders enter my treatment room. The main culprit for this neck pain and dysfunction is, ta da… work and lifestyle habits!

Many of my clients know that in my twenties, I worked for the largest mortgage company in Michigan. These were grueling 12-hour days, often working through lunch with minimal breaks. When one is working in these repetitive, stressful, and demanding environments, it indeed takes a toll on the body. Eventually your body will be screaming for relief. You will look for that relief in any way you can. Most want instant gratification, “quick relief”, but that relief is not sustainable and will only bandage the situation. The remedy truly is changing your physical habits through self-care, taking “time-outs” at work, and of course receiving massage!

FHP, clinically known as “Forward Head Posture,” has swiftly become an intergenerational condition affecting men, women, children, and young adults.  When your head is pulled forward, the additional pressure on your neck, shoulders, and back muscles can lead to serious tissue damage. Long term forward head posture can also lead to migraine headaches, respiratory, cardiovascular, and even digestive issues. Your neck vertebrae can change shape over time, resulting in your ears being in front of your shoulders. Not to mention your chest muscles and anterior neck muscles will shorten. Your back will weaken causing fascial restrictions, which many commonly call soreness and knots.

Just like crossing your legs can eventually leave you with a pelvic imbalance, looking down on a cell phone or sitting with rounded shoulders (aka poor posture) at a laptop or desktop for eight hours a day, can cause shortening, tightness, and dysfunction in the neck and shoulders.  More and more children are becoming slaves to their electronic devices, their eyes glued to the screen, oftentimes looking down.  If it’s already starting when they are two and four years old, imagine what the damage is going to be as they age and their bones are growing!

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For every inch your head is thrust forward from its natural position adds an additional 10 pounds of pressure to your spine. Anyone who uses a cellphone, tablet, or laptop, with their head in flexion, can cause upwards of 60 pounds of unnecessary pressure.

The part of the neck that is especially vulnerable to FHP is the lower part of the neck (C5-C6), just above the shoulders. So, when you start have the nagging pain between the shoulder blades and your neck feels as heavy as a lead balloon, it may be time to straighten up and check your posture.

Stop taking the over the counter pain meds, or even worse, prescription medication and start looking at alternative treatments such as massage therapy.  This is an investment in yourself and after all that we ask of our bodies day in and day out, don’t you want to treat it with the utmost respect? The true expense is letting these problems get worse. It’s never too late to get on the right track to a pain-free and balanced life with regular massage and some simple positive lifestyle changes.

In good health,

Natalie Frederick, LMT