It’s surprising how much it can get in your way and ruin your day. From being careful and limited in how you move, to the blowups at your boss or family because you’re in too much pain to take it anymore. Frankly, it just plain sucks.
You’ve probably tried pain pills, massage, heat, cold, maybe even voodoo, but it keeps coming back, if you even felt any relief in the first place. I understand your frustration. But I’ve got to tell you, you might be making it worse, and I definitely don’t want that for you.
Am I making it worse? Yes if…
You’re ignoring it, or trying to avoid aggravating it by being careful:
If you ignore or are taking steps to avoid the pain, your neck will be gradually getting tighter because you’re not moving in its normal range. Plus, being careful for more than a few minutes means you send subconscious messages to your body to brace against injury, tightening the tissues over weeks, then years.
You’re constantly using pain medication:
Pain medication at best numbs you out, but you may be causing further injury because you’ve shut off the pain signals that tell you to be careful.
You’re not paying attention to posture, or just as bad, trying hard to have good posture:
Bad posture has a lot to do with neck pain, everyone knows this, but so does trying hard to have good posture. Contrary to common wisdom, bad posture isn’t just laziness and habit, most of it starts with tissue restrictions which create misalignments and imbalances in your body. Then, when you try hard to have good posture, you fight what’s going on in your body. This takes effort! It also makes you stiffer, hurt more, and wears you out.
Good posture isn’t good because we said so, it’s good because it’s what works well and easily for your body. If it’s not easy, something’s in your way that needs to first be addressed.
Why do I have this pain in my neck?
Injuries and stresses throughout life have caused the soft tissues of your neck to become glued, pulled, and twisted. Eventually it’s hard for a neck to move the way it was meant to, and sooner or later, Youch! Neck pain!
Basically, the painful spot is the weak spot that’s being pressured on all sides. It just can’t hold up to the stress, and all it can do is complain, which translates to pain.
How you can help
1. Move and stretch your neck throughout the day
Whether you’re at a desk or doing more physical work remember to keep it light and easy, and think about lengthening rather than pushing through the tightness.
It’s helpful to get your fingers into the sore, tight tissues – think of moving those tissues back and forth with your fingers more than rubbing them. This yields a deeper and more lasting effect than rubbing (sliding your fingers over the surface).
You’ll start noticing all the ways the tissue is thick and stuck. Getting that stuff moving again will really help you out. While you’re at it, use your fingers to explore other areas of your neck and shoulders, you’ll likely find more problem spots. Do the same thing there.
Remember, the painful area is just where your body is complaining loudest. It all needs to be softened and loosened.
If it hurts and it’s not a good hurt, then back off, go lighter, and try again.
2. Be a bobble-head
You’ve seen bobble-head figures right? You want to mimic them. Gently bobble-head with your neck, feel the tight areas, see how many different ways your neck can move and bobble. This is a fantastic way to relax and open the tissues. It’s also great for finding the joints and tissues that are not moving so well.
When you spend a bit of time bobbling in the areas that don’t move well they often start releasing. Remember, key word is gentle! Never force any movement.
3. Learn to relax and lengthen, while you work and at other times.
Instead of reaching for the pain meds, spend a few minutes helping your neck lengthen, open, and relax. Sure, you rub your neck and move it, hoping that it will feel better, which is great, but if you add in the lengthen and release components, you’ll do so much better. Lengthen with your chin drawn back, lengthen in rotation, lengthen in side bend. Find and open the stuck spots, and the hurting spots will begin to release.
If you hunch a lot at work, set a reminder to move, lengthen and arch your back every hour throughout the day.
Take a look at your posture in the mirror, or take a photograph, and see where your neck is getting scrunched or pulled away from long and tall. Focus on gently lengthening these areas.
4. Come to treatment with me.
As a trained and experienced myofascial release specialist (yes, the type of MFR matters) I will reintroduce you to a body that moves and works well again, and feels better and younger too. In treatment we will find and release stuck, thickened tissues throughout your body because it all contributes to your neck pain.
Side-effect (the good kind): Your neck isn’t the only thing that will get better. Often, things you weren’t even aware of will improve. With these restrictions released, your body will have more fluid movement and easier functioning, and it will begin to heal the things that have been breaking down under all the stress. (Now, what kind of medication comes with good side effects on it’s warning label?)
Bonus: You will get instruction and experience in self-treatment, giving you the power to take care of yourself.
Life After Neck Pain
Imagine being able to turn your head easily. Imagine not spending endless moments rubbing and grasping at your neck hoping to ease the pain. Imagine being free of headaches, and jaw pain.
Imagine having more energy to be present and enjoy your life.
When your neck is working right, it’ll be easy to check over your shoulder for lane changes, you’ll be clearer headed, and you won’t wake up with a kinked neck. You’ll be able to breathe better, have more energy, and greater patience (truly).
I have a patient who has had neck pain nearly her entire life. Seriously, since she was a kid, she’s now in her 40’s. Sometimes the pain was bad, sometimes it was excruciating, never was it gone. Massage barely helped but she used it to get by. Since seeing me she has experienced periods (weeks) of no pain and easy movement. Here are her own words.
Living with chronic neck pain was exhausting. It took so much of my energy to cope with the pain, that little was left over for anything else. My personal and professional life suffered, and I was often cranky and unapproachable. I had tried everything I could think of to get rid of the pain-with little to no success. After receiving Myofascial Release Therapy from Michael Sudbury, my neck pain has diminished to the point that I often forget I ever had it. I can once again enjoy my family, friends, and hobbies with energy to spare. People keep telling me that I’m glowing with happiness, and it certainly feels that way!
Working with Michael has been a pleasure. He is warm and friendly, with a quiet, calm demeanor that inspires confidence. And his enthusiasm for his work is contagious! He is a caring, compassionate person, who has treated me as a person, not just an ailment. I highly recommend Michael to anyone suffering from chronic pain.
— Tracy Casil