Are your neck and shoulder muscles tight? Learn about the cause of tight neck and shoulder muscles, the resulting limitations on your life and how you can fix this problem resulting in a new body and new life.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you that I appreciate all the shoulder and upper back work; I carry all my tension there and have really noticed feeling more range of motion and less tightness”.
Why do you carry tension in your neck and shoulders?
My first 3 dates with my now husband Glenn where a pain in my neck 😊
Do you love the Fun experience of eating at the sushi bar? Now, imagine you are on a date with that special someone you are absolutely excited about, you’re sitting side by side. You turn sideways to look into their eyes but the only person you see is the sushi chef and the feeling of intense stiffness and pain in your neck running all the way down to your shoulder. You grab your neck with the palm of your hand, placing your elbow on the sushi bar to stabilize your very heavy head to turn, and hope your date didn’t notice the unattractive, ”I’m miserable”, face.
In our combined 30 years of body work and teaching body mechanics for over a decade, clients have most commonly come to Glenn and I with complaints of neck and upper body tightness.
Causes of Neck and Shoulder Tightness
Each of us has a unique mix of manifold reasons for tightness in the neck and shoulders.
Network of Muscles and Fascia Tissue
Many of the neck muscles insert into the upper back. The shoulder blades are connected to the spine and there is a network of fascia tissue that intertwine and strap to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones that provide support and movement.
When the deep internal muscles are weak, the extrinsic muscles are taking all the workload and will spasm to protect your neck.
Here are some of the major causes forcing your neck and upper body to strain to the point of pain:
1) Poor Postural Habits: The Text Neck
This happens when you are not aware of how you sit, stand and sleep. A Big Culprit – Office Work: Spending long hours staring at the computer and on the phone without awareness of your body posture is a common culprit here. The position of your head and neck start shifting forward against gravity. Many are surprised to look in the mirror and notice that their head is normally bent forward. Besides being an unattractive posture, did you know that every inch your eight-pound head protrudes forward adds another 10 pounds of pressure on your neck and shoulders? You’ll notice a posture where your shoulders round excessively forward or hike up towards your ears. If you develop chronic neck or upper body pain your muscles are probably very stiff and tight. This inhibits deeper muscles from working while triggering protective spasms in the external muscles. The result is both poor, unattractive posture, tight neck and shoulder muscles and a restricted and often painful range of movement as I experienced on my first date!
The good news is that you can correct this painful, unsightly problem, no matter how long it has been in the making. I’ll show you how.
2) Physical Trauma and Injury
If you have young kids, you know the importance of having a stroller with a safety belt. However, when I grew up in the 60s strollers did not come with safety belts. One day as my mom was pushing the stroller, I stood up and fell on my head. Doctors couldn’t find any damage but when Glenn worked on my neck, he noticed a very thick fascia pattern that has been there for many years. Though neither of us knew of my childhood past, Glenn asked me “Did you ever fall on your head?” When I called my mom the next day to ask that question, she acknowledged that I had indeed fallen on my head!
So, when people ask me, “Were you dropped on your head as a child?”, I can say, “Yes”. Not to worry, I’ve fully recovered, and I’ll show you how you too can recover from such injuries…even though they occurred long in your past!
3) Pent Up Emotions That Have No Outlet for Release
As a child and as an adult I always felt unable to express myself verbally. Do you know the feeling when you get upset and feel the chuckle in your throat? That repressed self-expression made me frustrated which felt like a knot in my throat. The knot traveled on to the neck causing tightness there.
I learned simple ways to overcome this problem and am here to share that knowledge with you.
4) Lack of Movement
Your body is meant to move, but as a modern humans, our jobs are more intellectual. We’re mentally more active but physically sedentary. When you sit for hours at a time immersed in your work tension starts creeping in. Your body is pleading, “Move me!” “Move me!” as you continue to hold it back. The tension increases. As with the problem I mentioned with my throat, where there was supposed to be movement of expression there was inactivity causing things to tense up.
Is There a Way Out of Neck and Upper Body Stiffness?
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to avoid neck and upper body stiffness from creeping in before it gets chronic. And, even where the tightness and pain have become chronic…even over years and years… there are things you can do loosen things up bringing relief from the pain along with new flexibility, range of motion and an attractive, improved posture! Where you may now feel muscles cinched up and held tight around the painful area, instead you can feel circulation and the restoration of movement. As Amber discovered, you too can end up “feeling more range of motion and less tightness.”
Listen to Your Body – Now is the Time!
Any musculoskeletal pain and injury if it’s in the neck and shoulders or anywhere else, is your body communicating and saying, “It’s time for a mechanical tune up!” We’re here to guide you in achieving a more joyful life with a greater range of pain-free movement not just in your neck & shoulders but throughout your entire body.
Steps to Healing
Step 1: Tune Up Your Posture
Your neck and head alignment are crucial for healthy function. Why? Because your neck is the vital blood and nerve passageway to your brain. In addition, this vital passageway contributes to your body’s balance system in the inner ear (the vestibular system) which is responsible for the equilibrium of your entire body posture. Balanced posture will free your breathing movement. You’ll feel relaxed and experience a greater sense of inner peace.
Check List for the Alignment of Your Head and Shoulders:
- When you sit, sit on top of your sits bone.
- Align your ribcage with your hip bones.
- Place your shoulders over your hips.
- Widen your collarbone.
- Glide your shoulder blade down toward your hips.
- Align your head over your shoulders.
- Tilt your nose gently down like you are saying “yes”
- Focus your eyes forward parallel to the floor.
- Feel the length in the back of your neck energetically reach from the top of your head.
Step 2: Relax and Stretch Your Muscles
If you have chronic pain and stiffness in your neck, start by relaxing the external muscles with heat and massage and then stretch them every day. The benefit of doing the stretches will not only improve your posture but you’ll also have better blood flow to the brain which can help you stay alert yet relaxed.
Self-Care Massages and Stretches for Your Neck
Neck Stretch Exercise
Back of Neck Massage
Back of Neck Massage Extension
Rhomboid Major, Trapezius Stretch
Sternocliedomastoid Mastoid Massage
Step 3: Get Help!
Register for the Upcoming Virtual Pilates Flow Class with Shoshi Hall
Are neck and shoulder pain, lack of flexibility and limited range of motion causing you to avoid activities you love? Virtual Pilates classes with Shoshi Hall are helping many like you to decrease neck and shoulder pain and discover new flexibility and range of motion. It’s like having a new lease on life! Because the classes are virtual…
- You can participate from anywhere in the world!
- You can participate in the comfort of your home without having to spend time driving to an exercise facility!
- The community becomes a support group cheering you on to your goals.
- And, Shoshi Hall is a world-class master movement educator.