The 5 Myths Stopping You From Curing Your Neck And Shoulder PainFeb 14, 2022
This is something that I suffered with for years, so I know ALL about it and how frustrating, exhausting and painful it can be. Over 80% of us will have neck or shoulder pain in our life and up to 50% of us will go on to have recurrent episodes….raise your hand if that is you!
Because it’s such a HUGE problem out there I’m dedicating this month to tell you all about it and how to get rid of it FOR GOOD so you can get on with living and loving your life. Sound good? Read on….
Neck and shoulder pain can interfere with all sorts of activities. I found that sitting was the worse, either at my desk or driving. I used to pray I wouldn’t meet a car in the lanes and have to reverse as I almost felt I was going to black out! I also found it hard to sleep. I’d wake if I had to turn over and getting out of bed in the morning was hard. It was only the hot shower and some painkillers that got me going. Over time things worsened significantly and eventually I had to concede I needed some help from the team.
My beliefs were much like yours back then. I thought my “bad” posture was the cause and I just needed to try harder to sit up straight. Although when I did make more of an effort I actually got more achy with the strain of holding myself in this braced rigid position. For years I thought I was really strong in my arms, after all I’m a Physio and use them ALL day long. BUT the reality getting looked at totally BUSTED my beliefs and hopes that I didn’t have much of a problem going on…
The FACTS I wish I’d known sooner are these;
1. Posture is fluid and needs to have options NOT be braced, rigid and upright in all scenario’s; Sitting is better to be more relaxed and slumped whereas standing is more about being upright
2. Posture shouldn’t be effortful. The whole point is that when the body is in harmony, everything works together, in the right way, at right time. It’s like an orchestra. Everything does its bit.
3. Better breathing is the BEST way to get sitting posture more relaxed and has a HUGE array of other health benefits too.
4. Making sure you are working your wrist and hand properly will help eliminate neck and shoulder problems.
5. Making sure your feet are working properly, are mobile and active will help eliminate neck and shoulder problems.
Breathing is definitely my new favourite thing which is handy as it keeps me alive! It is also one the biggest things that can influence your pain and sitting / standing posture.
Most of us are stuck in “stress breathing” where we are using muscles in our neck and shoulders to breath, even when we aren’t exercising. This is not what they are designed for. The diaphragm should be the only thing used for relaxed state breathing. Anytime any little dollop of stress comes along it can trigger your stress breathing and most of us stay breathing like this our entire lives. No wonder necks and shoulders get sore.
So, the secrets I now share took me ages to learn. You don’t need to wait just start doing these things now…..
1. When sitting, don’t try so hard. Allow your body to soften and slump more. You aren’t meant to be sat bolt upright (like your Mum probably used to nag you!). By doing this one simple thing you will probably feel symptoms improve immediately. Let your spine round and your shoulders relax on the side of your body.
2. Start breathing through your nose, as SLOW as you possibly can. Try to breathe out for longer than you breathe in. You are likely going to find this hard and uncomfortable initially. Don’t panic. You have enough oxygen to keep going, it’s just your brain playing tricks on you. Do 2 minutes of this relaxed breathing throughout the day for 2 weeks and see what a difference it makes. Also be aware of WHERE the breath starts. Try to let your shoulders and neck stay quiet as you slowly inhale.
3. Start using and loading your hand more. Give it purpose, make the muscles work instead of relying on the shoulders and neck to do all the work. Your whole arm needs to work together. Make a stronger effort with your grip before you lift. Try reaching with your fingertips when moving your arm. Try loading more your mid-hand and fingers when leaning on your hands, NOT the wrist / heel of the hand.
4. Make sure the rest of you is moving and loading well. Commonly when we are avoiding loading one of our legs it pushes your body to the opposite side. This is turn loads the neck and shoulders in a “non-optimal” way. Over time this can lead to pain and problems up top. Many of us have multiple regions in our body that are sore and knowing this makes it all fit together. By getting my foot moving more the pain in the opposite side of my neck and shoulder went away when I sat!
5. Heat, massage and stretches can also be helpful to ease symptoms. A wheat bag is always handy to have at home. Whilst the neck and shoulders might not be the CAUSE of the problem, doing something locally to them can be very reassuring and comforting to your nervous system, whilst you sort out the actual root cause of it all.
So, that is my story. I put off doing anything about my neck for ages. I thought I just needed to get stronger and have better posture! Sadly, I was doing it all wrong! I’m embarrassed to admit this to you all but in being honest I hope it saves you the years of problems I’ve endured due to my dodgy beliefs about my body.
Please send this blog to friends and family too so these top tips can help them. As I mentioned above, it’s “Neck & Shoulder Awareness Month" at the HealthHub. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer on this topic you can send in your questions using the form at the bottom of the blog home page and we will answer them in a future blog, or a member of the team will get back to you.
If you'd like to find out more on what you can do to get rid of your neck pain, download this FREE report and get all our top tips.
You can also read more of our blogs on neck pain by going to our Neck Pain Collection
If you have been suffering for years from aches and pains, or have had an injury that's preventing you from doing the activities you love, call us on 01548 853 355 or contact [email protected] to talk to one of our team about what you can do to get back to living and moving pain free.
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