I would say that easily more than half my clients come to see me with tight shoulders and a stiff neck. What’s funny is, when I see a new client, I can almost predict with 95% accuracy that they will have stiff shoulders and neck. Our lives today pretty much guarantee that at some point we will all suffer from tight shoulders and a stiff neck. So, let’s dive in and talk about it in today’s newsletter.
What Causes Tight Shoulders?
The reason I can tell when someone has tight shoulders is, I can see their shoulders rounding, neck leaning forward, and when they walk, they lead with their nose. These are all symptoms of tight shoulders. In our lives today we lean forward during 90% of all our movements. Think about it. When we sit behind a desk working on a computer, hunching over our phones, driving a car, cooking, or making any movement, unless we bend over backward, we are shortening our chest muscles, placing tremendous pressure on our upper back and shoulders.
Here is a surprise that most health practitioners never speak of. Your calves can create tightness in your shoulders. When the ankles cannot bend beyond ninety degrees, a person will walk with their thighs, the quadriceps, not their feet. I know you put your feet on the ground, and you think you’re walking with your feet, but you aren’t. This can lead to many foot problems, and I will discuss that in a future newsletter, but for now, let’s focus on your shoulders.
Watch anyone walk and see how much their foot bends with each step. Watch for how much the ankle bends. Now, while you are watching them look up at their head and see that their nose is out in front of their chest. Anytime you see them leading with their nose, they will experience tight shoulders.
Why Most Treatment Plans Fail
Most treatment plans include strengthening the middle of your upper back. Many trainers and therapists will suggest seated Lat rows or bent over rows to strengthen the Rhomboids between your shoulder blades. At first it seems to make sense until you realize that the Rhomboids will fatigue as they are fighting against the chest muscles on the front side. Some practitioners will have you grab a post or doorway and pull really hard for up to sixty seconds as if the force will release the chest. The reality is you are strengthening your legs!
Another favorite of doctors, chiropractors, and some therapists is back braces. Again, the idea here is, if we can pull the shoulders back, they will stay there. The more pressure you place on the chest muscles, the more resistance the brain will create. This is temporary at best.
One final treatment could be using a knobby ball to force the back muscles to release. But, the more pain you create, the more the brain will resist. This causes the muscles to tighten. For some, there is temporary relief which is due to fatigue of the muscles being pressured.
Until the brain buys in, there is no release. I am not sure why the medical community cannot understand that. Our muscles are more emotional than physical. Once we get that, we can then release our muscles and stop the pain.
How to Solve Tight Shoulders
Below are two stretches that I have found to help the most for a tight chest. Only hold the stretch for five seconds so you won’t engage the stretch reflex in the muscle. Then repeat them ten times to show the brain that the move is safe. Next use your hands to soften the chest at the armpit. It should be soft enough that you could press as hard as you want with no pain. You can massage across your chest to the sternum, the middle of your chest.
Tips to Improve Your Stretching
All you need is a yoga strap and a tennis ball for the tennis ball massage. Give yourself about 15 minutes twice a day and you should see better results within 2 weeks. This, though, is a lifetime event. Think of your pet. they stretch every day and several times a day. Stretch when they stretch. Follow the videos below and free your knees. In my opinion, the calf stretch is the most important stretch a human can do. It will solve many issues of the body.
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.
Don’t Forget the Tennis Ball Massage!
Softening your hips and back is easy when you use the tennis ball. Just lean against the wall and apply enough pressure to feel the painful area. The temptation is to press harder but resist it. Instead, breathe out and allow the muscle to soften under the ball. Then move to another spot and repeat. Continue doing this until most of the painful spots are gone.
If you like this article, please share with your friends and family. Don’t forget to check out our social media pages, leave a comment, and as always, reviews are awesome!
You can learn more at The Muscle Repair Shop Videos on YouTube.
Want to Talk with Me Directly? Start Here
We’re happy to offer you a complimentary 30-min virtual consultation so you can experience this for yourself. Schedule your introduction to Stretch n Release now.
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 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 allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.