Did you know that your ankles can cause neck pain? The length of your stride and the flexibility of your ankles have a lot to do with neck pain. Yet the ankles are rarely talked about unless you break or sprain one. Included with the ankles are the feet. The ankles and feet work together so we can walk with less effort. Unfortunately, we have been taught so little about our feet and ankles, plus what we have been taught is weak at best. IN this post I am talking about how to improve the flexibility of your ankles to improve your neck posture.
Typically we think of neck pain as stress-related, sitting in front of a computer, or head forward posture. The focus is on the pain on the back of the neck and mid-back. That causes a lot of misdiagnosis and frustration from working hard with little results. The standard treatments do work short term because the treatment is addressing the symptom. The problem is everyone is looking on the wrong side and end of the body. I know your neck hurts and you can feel down into your midback, but that is not is causing the pain. When your ankles cannot bend beyond 90 degrees the body must use the upper quads to walk with a little help from leaning your head forward. This places enormous amount fo tension on the back of your neck.
Your head 10-14 lbs., however for every inch you lean forward that weight increases by 10 lbs. So if it leans 1 inch forward, now the head weighs 20-24 lbs. That is double its resting weight. You have 2 long muscles that run from the base of your skull to your pelvis and they sit in a groove on each side of your spine. As you bend your head forward, those 2 long muscles are in extension and are supporting the weight of your head. Remember, every inch forward, the weight increases by 10 lbs. You can see how the muscles on the back can fatigue and spasm.
When the ankles cannot bend beyond 90 degrees and the head is leaning forward, the muscles on the front side of the neck and chest become short or tight. Your ankles are causing your neck pain. Over time, the muscles in the chest and front of the neck cannot extend to full range. This will increase the tension o the backside of the neck. All from the ankles not being flexible. Your ankles should bend somewhere between 110-120 degrees and the foot should be soft enough to bend the toes to push you off in the forward movement. If your feet and calves are hard, the ankle cannot bend properly.
Let’s begin by sitting on the floor with your hips up against the wall. if you cannot sit on the floor, sit in a hardback chair and place one leg on an ottoman. Use a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy. Lay one leg straight out in front of you and place the strap around the ball of the foot. Gently pull with hands and feel the calf muscles stretching. If you pulled too hard the calves will fight you and you end up doing curls for your biceps. Breathe out as you gently pull your toes back towards your nose. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. Next, rotate your foot toward the outside and repeat the stretch which will stretch out the inner calf muscle. Finally, rotate the foot inward and repeat the stretch to stretch out the outside calf muscle.
Just a tip, the inside and outside calf muscles are responsible for supination and pronation of your feet. Most people buy shoes for that, but it is actually a calf issue, not a foot issue. You can soften your feet by massaging them with your hand. NO matter how you press, there should be no pain when the muscles are soft. If there is some pain, lessen the pressure, breathe out, and allow the muscle to relax.
The calves are such an important part of mobility, and yet they are ignored. This why your ankles can cause neck pain. When your neck hurts and you are not sitting a lot, check your stride. that could be the answer to your pain. For more information check out https://www.musclerepairshop.com