3 common causes of neck pain
rendered medically accurate illustration of a man having a painful neck.

Pain in the Neck?

This week most clients I saw were dealing with neck and/or shoulder pain. Each week tends to have a common thread and this week was no different. For some it was a simple stiff neck-they slept wrong or were working on the computer for too long. For others, it was much more severe and the pain would radiate down their arm. Today I will talk about how you get neck and shoulder pain and how to resolve it.

What Causes Your Neck and Shoulders to Hurt?

As I have said many times, the site of the pain is rarely the cause of the pain, yet it seems to be very difficult for people to remember this. I understand why, but nonetheless this is a consistent problem. The neck and shoulder areas can be a very difficult place to find the cause of your pain.

If turning your head is painful, and usually the pain is on the back of the neck, the cause is the front side of the neck and on the opposite side from the pain. Think of your head as sitting on 4 pistons. As you turn your head to the right, the right rear muscle must contract as the left front muscle must release. If the left front muscle is in a spasm, the right rear muscle will overwork and cause pain on the right rear area of the neck.

Here is where it can get interesting. If the left rear becomes really tight, then the pain on the left rear will not only affect the neck muscle on the left rear, but also all the muscles running down onto the right shoulder which can press on nerves causing pain to shoot down your right arm.

In using my Stretch n’ Release Technique, you are allowing the brain to release the muscles versus brute force that you see in many gyms and physical therapy. It takes practice, but once you get it, and you will, your body will feel more energized and vibrant.This can keep you awake at night and literally drive you crazy. Sadly, most practitioners will focus on the right shoulder to help you and they will fail which will frustrate them as well. Some of you may get injections to relieve the pain and they will, for a short while, but it will come back because the practitioner changed nothing except to numb the pain. So let’s dive into how to prevent and solve this type of pain.

How to Solve Neck and Shoulder Pain

We always want to begin by using the tennis ball against the wall to soften the muscles on the upper back and shoulders. See the video below. We can use our hands to soften the outside of the chest by gently pressing as you look for sore spots. Once you find one, maintain the pressure, breathe out and then release the tension by allowing the muscle to relax.
Next, place your chin in the palms of both hands and give yourself a moment to feel the weight of your head in your hands. Do not engage the muscles on the back of your neck–simply push up with your hands and feel the front of your neck stretch out. Do not force this. Be gentle and you will begin to feel the muscles on the front of your neck release the tension. You can see this in the video below.
Finally, turn your head to the right, place the right hand on the corner of your head, and gently push the head back over the right shoulder as if you were trying to place your right ear on your right shoulder blade. Then do the left side. You can see this video below.
I do these many times sitting in my car waiting for the stoplight to turn green. Always do these sitting in a chair for support of your back. The importance of stretching the front of your neck is to reduce the tension on the back side of your neck. I stretch my neck at least twice daily to avoid the typical neck stiffness we all feel.

Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you could be doing strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.


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About The Muscle Repair Shop

Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese, and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday.  Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs.  Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles of living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique

Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allowing clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain.

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