How is your neck feeling?
I have to tell you, despite folks referring to a problem that they are struggling to deal with as being a pain in their backside, the place I most often observe it knotting up is their neck.
Sometimes it spreads down and out into the shoulders, other times upwards into a headache…regardless it is all the same. If you need to pull it together you are likely to put it in your neck.
If you have read this far I am sure you yourself have a neck that is less than comfortable from time to time. Perhaps even most of the time.
If so, I am sure you want it gone, but do you know what will absolutely not help with that?
That is right; probably the least helpful thing, and quite likely the most aggravating thing that you could do for your neck problem would be to stretch it.
Well there is a brainstem in that neck, and a brain above it. And despite your best efforts the committee in there has felt it necessary to tighten your neck up to deal with the situation at hand. Now you can get in there and try to crank it all you want with the hopes of making it give up, but chances are all that is going to happen is your neck (ahem…your brain) is going to fight back.
At best, it will not change.
At worst, it will tighten up more.
So don’t stretch it…
Instead, assume your neck is overloaded, and is being asked to do far more than its fair share. Often there are problems above and below the neck that must be looked at if things are going to have a chance at improving.
Below your neck you will find a ribcage, and above your neck you will find both a jaw, and a pair of eyes…
Often the ribcage is stiff in a particular shape, and it is only able to expand in certain directions as a result. Two common shapes are a collapsed inward salad bowl shaped chest, and the other flat, long and leaping to the moon.
The first one is a person collapsing under the demands of life, and as a result their neck is cranked in order to look forward at the world and keep their airway open.
The second one is trying to rise above it all, often in hyper-vigilant anticipation. This locks their neck up like meerkat, and the only place this ribcage typically can expand is northward into their neck. In this case their neck becomes their diaphragm… this works about as well as you would think.
Now what about that jaw? What does it have to do with your stiff, aching neck?
Well, quite simply…your jaw is your neck.
If that perplexes you, take time to recognizes that your jaw is a floating bone within your neck…it is woven through it. To wonder what your jaw has to do with your neck is to wonder what your kneecap has to do with your knee…
This is why all the tension and tendencies you have at your jaw, will also be tension and tendencies placed on your neck.
Yes… that does mean all your chronic clenching is contributing to your neck pain. You know that painful tooth, or missing a molar or two that forces you to chew only on one side? Yes… it plays a role.
Now what exactly do your eyes have to do with your stiff, sore or aching neck?
Well if you have read this far, and are interested in not only the answer to that question, but also a deeper understanding of what I shared above, then watch the video below. There I not only flesh out these common factors in chronic neck pain, but also what can be done to address them.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.