Neck pain sucks.
I wearily dug my hand into my shoulder yet again, trying in vain to release the tension that had been settling there for the last hour. Neck pain and I were best friends. We’d been that way for a while and I didn’t appreciate the “friendship”…
Until a decade ago, when the pain stopped.
That was when I unlocked the right combination of knowledge, movement, and drills to solve my neck and shoulder tension for good.
And not only my neck pain. Some of my coaching clients had neck pain and shoulder tension, and so I shared the methods and knowledge with them. And it worked for them, too.
In this post, I’ll share with you the insights and knowledge you need to start solving your neck pain and shoulder tension for good*.
*I will always remind you that if you have pain that concerns you, see a doctor.
Why Stretching Your Neck Muscles
Doesn’t Give You Relief
Hand on head, yanking my skull down toward my shoulder, I stretched yet again, hoping it would relieve my pain…it never did.
Here’s why stretching alone doesn’t solve your neck pain:
Stretching mechanically lengthens the muscle, but does not teach your brain how to control that new length. And since your brain is always trying to protect you, it will not give you more range of motion if it thinks you cannot control the tissue. Stretching a muscle can actually do the very opposite of what you’re trying to achieve – making the very muscle you’re trying to make less tight, tighter.
Think of it like this – stretching may increase your range of motion, it won’t necessarily give you more accessible range of motion.
This is the part where everyone throws their hands up because, ‘well jeez, if stretching doesn’t make your muscles feel better, what are we supposed to do then?’
The solution is to use active inputs, rather than passive ones to teach your nervous system on board to expand, control, support, and strengthen, new ranges of motion.
This part of the discussion goes much deeper, which we will get to later, but for now you know that stretching is a passive input and passive inputs alone do not make real or lasting change.
So where do you go from here? Let me show you…
Where Fixing Neck Pain Begins
You must remember this: How you do one thing is how you do everything.
How you position your head and shoulders the majority of your day – including your sleep time – is one of the biggest factors in neck pain and shoulder tension. And it’s often overlooked entirely.
Your soft tissues and joints respond to the signals they receive.
No matter what that signal is, your muscles will respond. Even if that response puts you in a significant movement-potential hole in the future.
If you always send the signal that your neck and shoulder muscles should adapt to a particular position…
Your body will respond by becoming more efficient at that position.
That is, your body will adjust the tissues and joints of the area to better support the thing you are asking them to do most often. Even if that isn’t an adaptation that is ideal long term.
Are You In These Positions Often?
1) Staring At Your Computer Screen
This is the obvious one that most everyone knows about by now, yet it still needs a giant flood light focused on it since we spend so much time at computers. You can do all of the “postural work” you want, but spending a vast majority of your day in one position, the movement training is but a drop in the bucket of the ‘body position ocean’.
2) Staring At The Rectangle In Your Hand
Like every other human while you wait for the train, the bus, your kids, the guy in front of you at the take out restaurant – you’re tipping your head over like a teapot to watch cat videos on the internet. Change how you hold and look at your phone (or better yet, spend less time altogether on the thing).
3) Exercising And Just Realizing Now That You’ve Never Thought About Your Head Or Neck Position During Workouts
Your muscles are linked together, firing in harmony and support of each other. Your exercise is a time for you to spend in a conscious, controlled environment working on your muscular strength and organization – so that when you’re in the real world, an unconscious, uncontrolled environment, you can respond with strength and control.
Sleep should be restorative and restful, but far too many folks suffer with jaw clenching, neck muscle tensing, and shoulder squeezing. Each of these alone and in rare occurrence may not become a problem. But if you wake up tense or sore or with a headache, it’s worth looking at how you’re sleeping.
Where The Road To
Fixing Your Neck Pain Leads Next
By noticing your environment and how you respond to it with your body position, you take a good step toward changing the input on your soft tissues and joints.
And you now know that stretching is not the answer to the problem. The next crucial step is to change the output of your soft tissue and joints.
Over a thousand folks have healed their neck and shoulder pain by using what I teach in my online workshop, Kiss Neck And Shoulder Tension Goodbye. In the workshop, I’ll take you through an in-depth teaching session and movement lesson. You’ll learn the deeper knowledge behind why your neck and shoulders might hurt, and most importantly, how to create neck and shoulders that feel great.
I’ll teach you specific movement drills, and you’ll get the knowledge you need to make your neck and shoulder tension a thing of the past.