Pain in Neck and Shoulders. Where does it start first?

My daughter always had a beautiful posture, but today she was constantly rubbing her shoulder and tilting neck to the side. She was not even noticing it. She was turning her head to the painful side, lifting her shoulder and tilting her head, like she was trying to protect some area in the crook of a shoulder and a neck.

As I mentioned in the beginning she always had a perfect posture since her childhood. She was a competitive swimmer and swimmers keep their posture for the rest of their life. However, extensive computer work, especially writing and drawing can stiffen up even perfect shoulders of a swimmer. And something interesting happens that doctors gave very interesting name – adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder.

Myofascial Adhesions

Due to occupational stress fibers of the muscles start to glue to each other right between different groups of muscles, making movement difficult and painful.

Since muscles do not move bones anymore epithelium in the joint capsule does not produce synovial liquid and cartilage starts cracking like ground in the desert and this process is quite painful.

What do we do in this situation?

First and foremost we have to remember that joints are made to move. Only during movements muscle fibers can be smooth again and joint capsules will get enough lubrication to keep the joint healthy.

So, in this video we show how to move shoulder blades to restore their mobility and healthy feeling. Please, let us know how you feel right after this video.

Cobra Pose or Recipe for disaster

Many people are suggested this pose in order to open their abdominal area and chest. And it happens in gyms, physio, yoga, by PT’s, doctors, books, videos, etc. But while they try to perform this pose they in fact injure their neck and low back.This is our videographer who knows the difference. Now please, tell me which variation is anatomically beneficial and which one is not and in which region

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Variation 1
May be an image of one or more people and outdoors
Variation 2

When I asked people this questions many of them chose Variation 2 because it looks less damaging, but suggested to put shoulders down. In the first picture our model compensates tight chest with the chin reaching up. People that have tight chest never notice this chin compensation until someone points at this at least 10-15 times. Well, this is how our brain works. Even his wrists want to compensate for the tight chest. However his low back keeps nice line of the whole spine gently lengthening it. Photo with points below

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Cobra pose with beneficial and injuring points

As per people suggesting to put shoulders down there are different variations of doing this and all of them lead to different results.

Shoulders down could be in 4 positions:

  1. Reaching forward – so that you would nicely open T1, T2, possibly T3 with the condition of gently putting down your chin
  2. Directly down at the line of the torso – you would strain your levators or sternocleidomastoid depending on the neck position
  3. Down and back -will actually put some pushing action into sternum which could be nice in some cases
  4. Just down naturally – strain on sternocleidomastoid

Try all of these variations gently and let me know in your comments which position of the shoulders work for you

5 foot problems that you might not know about

Women are interesting creatures. They mostly think of esthetic problems rather than of the root of the problem. Probably, because it is easier to resolve or requires almost no work from a person who got this problem. 

Let’s talk about our feet and some of the problems that are considered as esthetic problems, which in reality is much more. We are talking about bunions. 

Bunions are a symptom of a progressive bone disorder. They appear as a bony bump at the base of the big toe joint.

This problem occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. This causes the tip of your big toe to get pulled toward the smaller toes and forces the joint at the base of your big toe to stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore. Shoes that crowd the toes can increase the risk of symptoms, but they do not cause bunions directly.

Some people think that bunions could be inherited, but I would like to point out that despite the fact that my Grandma and Mom have severe bunions, I still have a child looking perfectly shaped feet.

And why is this?

Simply because I studied the architecture of the body and understand the importance of body basis which is our feet. Any tiny little change in this complicated structure (26 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments) will affect the whole structure above, which is our ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, whole spine, including low back and neck and even position of our head!

What do we do?

First, we assess how we walk, which part of our shoes gets overused and which is intact by looking at our old shoes. 

Let’s test

  1. Middle of sole of your shoes
  2. Inner part
  3. Inner part closer to toes and outer part of the heel   
  4. Outer part
  5. Under your toes

Now comment what did you find out, which number corresponds to your specific problem

Is Neck Traction Good or Bad?

If you read my previous article about neck traction devices you, probably know my answer. But it was about DEVICES. So, if it is not about devices what is it about then?

What is the neck anyway?

It is a bunch of barrel looking bones, connecting with ligaments that have cushions with slimy stuff inside of them. And, there is a part of the brain that runs through it that has to be intact. 

So, if these squishy cushions get ruptured and slimy stuff would protrude out they might touch nerves coming out of the spinal canal and even make it narrower. These awful things are called protrusions and stenosis.

So, what do you do if this happens?

First, you think why it happened and never repeat it. Then you go through all of the appropriate tests (ask me which ones you have to order from your family doctor) and then you will see how serious your condition is. But in any case you will be able to help yourself starting with a simple massage of trapezius muscles (the ones behind the ridge of your shoulders) and fold into forward bend with bent knees.

When you repeat it for 3-4 minutes try to gently nod your head while in forward bend. Get up slowly, because you could be extremely dizzy and it is absolutely fine because you are freeing up blood vessels and blood is now rushing through your arteries and veins freely.

Neck Traction – Nodding

The next one is the same, but instead of nodding your head grab your ears with your hands and help yourself by saying No by your hands. Make sure there is absolutely no tension in your neck muscles while you do both of these exercises. Straighten up super slowly due to possible dizziness.

I don’t recommend this to anyone who has high blood pressure, glaucoma or is pregnant. There are certain modifications that have to be made in these particular cases.

Neck Traction by yourself

Do neck devices work?

Which neck traction device do you recommend?

This scary question I get on a regular basis. And my answer to this is usually either NONE.

But so many companies recommend it! Right.

Let me tell you straight – these companies don’t care about you. They just want to sell to you. Nothing else. And you want to buy their devices, because it is so much easier to pay for the product that you will tell later that doesn’t work rather than educate yourself on how you got into such a situation and work on the way out.

And you are absolutely right – the way out is to stretch out the spine, particularly in the neck region, because you might think that since neck has protrusions ii is the neck that we need to stretch. But think about it – your neck is the thinnest area of the spine and by stretching it out you make it even thinner! How about muscles surrounding the spine? Are they developed enough to support the length that you desire? And what is below your neck? May be there is something that is making your neck to protrude forward squishing the disks?

I got introduced to neck traction devices back in USSR when I was 9 and when I broke my neck during gymnastic trick. This device was never used alone. There was neck massage and exhausting Yoga exercises for chest, shoulders and neck muscles. And, of course, grandma’s exercises for the lower face and Yoga for posture. She says that posture is the base for everything.

Grandma says posture is everything

Since then I share my knowledge with everyone who wants to heal themselves and reach out to me. I am one email away from you 🙂 Here is my email: snejulya at gmail dot com

Release Tension Headache through these 7 easy Upper Back Stretches

Very often I get questions such as “Can Upper Back Tension cause headaches?”.

As muscles in the upper back become strained, they tighten and put pressure on the neck and skull. Tension from a pulled muscle can exacerbate the pain of a headache. These headaches may be impossible to resolve completely without first addressing the underlying back problem. And the biggest influencer of this kind of pain is stress. Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an often-overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repetitive bouts of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.

While many doctors think that many chronic tension headaches develop for no apparent reason I would still repeat that it is due to stress or inability to stay calm during stressful situations. Our body simply tries to defend the most important organs for life which is lungs and hurt and caves in by sending shoulders forward. In most cases, upper back pain is not a cause for worry; however, it can be uncomfortable, painful, and inconvenient. Furthermore, if pain develops suddenly and is severe—such as from an injury (eg, fall)—and, certainly if pain and symptoms (eg, weakness) progressively worsen you should seek medical attention.

Reasonably, you might ask yourself – what could be done to relieve tension headaches and upper back tension?

Try some of the following:

  1. Manage your stress level. One way to help reduce stress is by planning ahead and organizing your day.
  2. Go hot or cold. Applying heat or ice — whichever you prefer — to sore muscles may ease a tension headache.
  3. Perfect your posture. Good posture can help keep your muscles from tensing. The video that I did for you is perfect for upper back. These gentle stretches will help to ease the pain. Start gently and don’t push

Yoga Before Bedtime helps with anxiety and surprisingly leg cramps at night

Practicing yoga before bedtime is a terrific way to release everything you’re holding onto mentally or physically before sinking into a peaceful night of deep sleep. Incorporating a relaxing yoga practice into your nighttime routine may improve the quality and duration of your sleep.

The combination of moving with concentration on breath helps to put worries away while working on nervous system when stretching leg muscles. Any type of stretching is related to a comfort zone of your nervous system. And when the nervous system is concentrating on something that requires a lot of resources, especially survival resources it turns off the white noise which is stress and anxious thoughts.

So, Yoga postures for anxiety are best practiced before bedtime when we are left with our own thoughts. Try this sequence and let us know in the comments the difference that you experienced

Neck Pain. Does it reside in the neck itself, in stiff shoulders or tight chest?

Most people think that the problem is at the area of pain. It is not necessarily true. For example,  when we think that we have a neck pain, that stress lands into the base of the neck and gives us tension headache and stiffness in shoulders we start searching for neck stretching on YouTube.

We do find them , start exercising,  but it gets worse. I’ll give you s hint from one simple massage technique. When massage therapist finds a tension bump he/she never presses in the middle of it. Instead finds where it ends and starts working with edges, softening them and gradually melting down this bump without even touching it! Same with the neck – start working with surrounded area. Watch the video and let us know your experience in the comments

In-studio, in-home and online programs

While many people stay home we decided to provide online programs as well. Choose what you need the most at the moment to keep your mind sane and body healthy.

This sequence is specifically designed to help seniors to improve hip mobility in order to be more stable and to ease up pain in low back and knees, but it is also good for office people. Safely strengthens your side hip muscles to help with hip arthritis. Helps maintain your lower body endurance to better walk and side step around objects.

This session is quite dynamic and is good during lunch break. It will help you stretch your legs and strengthens them at the same time, just what’s needed for a busy professional. Maximum results in minimum amount of time!

Here’s Why Your Company’s Wellness Program Isn’t For You

Your company offers a workplace wellness program.

You figure it only makes sense for more flexible people, for the younger employees, and for people who don’t have that much work to get done. What could it do for someone with a limited range of motion, low endurance, and lack of time?

Maybe, just maybe, you get convinced somehow. Your stress gets too high, your energy gets too low, and you see the effects the classes are having on your colleagues.

So you go to some classes, you start chatting up with people who you’ve never met before. IT guys are talking to sales guys. People who you’ve never seen taking the stairs are now squatting with weights in their hands! People who used to come in twenty minutes late are coming into work a half hour early so that they don’t feel guilty in case they come back a little late from lunch. There’s higher engagement, higher morale, and a higher likelihood for you to stay if hell breaks loose at 4:43 pm.

It’s a fun reprieve from work and is certainly different than how you usually spend lunch (browsing through YouTube, Twitter, or your emails). Instead, your lunches are now filled with kicking through the air and laughing about next week’s new “super crazy cycling combo”.

It works.

For a few months…

The classes you’re attending are fun but they’re not effective for your circumstance.

They don’t have any effect on how you deal with stressful situations on a daily basis, they don’t relieve your back, shoulder, or neck pain, and, they may even be having a negative impact on these things.

Here’s why the workplace wellness program won’t work for you:

It’s not tailor-made for your specific needs.

Needs such as relieving chronic pain, dealing with stress, and even the ability to communicate with people without losing your temper.

The classes that are offered at work, at the gym, or at your community centre are often ways to:

  • “Get you exercising!”
  • “Get your blood pumping!”
  • “Get you healthier!”

 

But those are very vague phrases that don’t offer specific solutions.

In fact, here’s the mind-blowing secret no one will ever tell you:

You know those personal trainers teaching you to wave around barbells, medicine balls, and make use of TRX systems? They teach you that because that’s what’s interesting for them to teach and that’s what they learned in school, not because it’s beneficial for you. UNLESS, you’ve found someone who can tell you why they’re using those exercises for your specific conditions.

Trainers were taught things like how to get people to lose weight, increase endurance and muscle mass, gain strength, and improve flexibility. They were not taught how to deal with mental health, chronic conditions, chronic pain, and exercise for injuries.

And that’s not their fault. That’s what they were taught.

So, no matter how much equipment your company buys, you won’t be able to improve your health concerns if you don’t do exercises specifically tailored for you.

Of course it’s difficult to convince your company (or rather the person or department responsible for compensation, benefits, or rewards) to find a health professional that knows how to solve every type of health problem ever. But you can convince them to find one who knows exactly how to solve work-related issues such as stress, mental health problems (like sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, etc.), fatigue, chronic pain (back, shoulders, neck, feet, knees, etc.), varicose veins, low energy, and eyesight degradation.

Let’s use the Office of the Town of Newmarket as an example:

Their staff get a large percentage off all of the programs that the town has to offer and they could choose from classes such as Restorative Yoga, Muscle Sculpt, Cardio Kickboxing, and so much more.

Those seem great from an outsider’s perspective, maybe even fun, but they are ultimately ineffective at battling the major problems so many people face as a result of sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for 8+ hours.

The staff had known that and that’s why they were willing to pay for a program that was x4 more expensive for each individual person than what they could pay with their discount because it had a higher ROH (return on health), and subsequently, ROI.

You’ve probably seen or even attended similar classes so let’s go through why each of these would be ineffective for you:

Restorative Yoga:

Don’t even get me started on how wrong this is for anyone who’s stressed out.

Let’s use an example you’d probably be familiar with:

Your child has just had a day of fun with their friends, they’ve eaten pizza, chips, and cake, and guzzled down 3 cups of pop. Then, you even let their friends stay over for a movie. Eventually, their friends go home, it’s an hour past your child’s bedtime and they won’t go to sleep.

WHY?

Because they are over-excited.

That is you after a day at the office. Only you’ve guzzled down 3 cups of coffee, not pop. And you dealt with poor experiences of screaming colleagues, rather than exciting experiences of screaming friends. And you had to deal with screw ups from so many departments, and deadlines, and emails, and a very questionable donut in one of your meetings.

So you’re not going to calm down by lying down on the floor and focus on your breath. It will only agitate you more, get you thinking more about your workplace problems, as well as your chronic pain.

And for the people who tell you it works – they probably weren’t too stressed out to begin with.

Biggest Con: It leaves you in a more agitated state than before you entered the class

Muscle Sculpt:

Ah, the infamous muscle sculpt. With the power of low-weight barbells, it creates the illusion that you are “sculpting” your muscles. When in fact, you’re losing both muscle and fat.

More cardio than anything else, the class will leave you feeling sweaty, tired, and if you do it for long enough, you’ll have higher endurance to do that type of class for a longer period of time.

Yes, it’ll get your heart rate up, but that’s probably not your top priority when it comes to your health.

Biggest Con: May result in past injuries flaring up

Cardio Kickboxing:

Hands down, this is one of the most challenging classes. And fun! But again, depending on the instructor, you could be losing both muscle and fat. If you’re lucky, your instructor will add strength training into the mix.

Biggest Con: Risk of muscle and joint injury

So while these classes all encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, they simply do not solve a range of more dangerous problems.

To help solve those problems, let’s look at 5 massages you can do right at your desk that will start helping you immediately. They will also help any of your friends or colleagues who work in office environments. So if you share this with them, they’ll be thanking you later (even though they may not admit that they have major aches in their neck, shoulders, lower back, and more).

  1. Using the fingers of your right hand and the base of your palm, squeeze the back of your opposite shoulder. You can support your right elbow with the opposite hand. Repeat this squeezing, moving your hand from the outer part of your upper back towards the spine without touching the actual spine. Change sides.

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This massage provides relief for tension headache, pain in the neck and shoulders, and even helps with pain in the jaw.

  1. Move your right hand down along your neck. Try to reach downward as far as possible towards your mid-back. From this point start moving up, using your fingers and the base of your palm. Squeeze the muscles on both sides of your spine, making sure to avoid squeezing the spine itself. Keep scaling your hand upward until you reach the base of your skull.  

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Switch hands and repeat the same massage technique.

Massaging your neck in this way helps to release pressure right at the origin of the trapezius muscle and will help you to get pleasant relief from your neck pain.

  1. With your right hand, reach to the back of your spine as low as it works for you and begin spiral movements along the side of the vertebral column, moving up towards the base of the skull. Repeat a few times, going deeper and deeper into the muscle as much as you can without it being painful.

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  1. Gently tilt your head forward and find C7 vertebrae. Start pinching on both sides of the vertebrae with the base of the palm and fingertips. Make sure that you are not touching the spine itself. Walk your hand up in this pinching manner towards the occipital bone. If you find some spots that hurt more than others spend more time on them.

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Repeat with the other hand.

  1. Tilt your head to the right. With your right hand reach to the back of the left shoulder. Using index, middle, and ring fingers start pressing on the meaty part of the shoulder.

Look for painful areas.

When you find some of those areas, spend more time pressing on them. Make sure you work only on the shoulder level without going up the side of the neck.

Alternate sides.

MassageNeck_Trapezius

This tactic helps to stretch tight muscles on the side of the neck, relieving neck pain and partial headache that could be a side effect of these tight muscles.

 

So, if you do this over the period of a week and see an improvement, share your success story with us, with a coworker, or with a friend going through similar problems. Chances are, if they sit in at a desk for the whole day, they’ve been experiencing similar chronic pain just like you.