Sore, stiff necks are a common problem.
With the prevalence of mobile devices these days you don’t even have to be chained to the desk at an office to have a sore neck. We know that when the head balances perfectly on top of the spine there is minimal effort required from the cervical muscles around the neck to maintain that position. However, as soon as that neck starts to move outward from the point of balance the load on the muscles through the entire neck and upper back that surround these muscles is increased exponentially.
Let our Myotherapist Matt educate you on the anatomy in question and show you some neck stretches which target all aspects of the neck and upper back to help alleviate some of that neck tightness and subsequent pain.
The scalenes are muscles located on the sides of our neck, they help us tilt out head side to side as well as providing stability with day to day tasks. As they get tighter and tighter they eventually lock the neck down in such a way that all movements attempted will be hindered by the tension of this muscle. The reason for this is that the fibres technically pass through not only the side of the neck where they’re clearly visible but also wrap around and intertwine themselves amongst both the front and the back of the neck to.
Good old upper traps, probably one of the most requested muscles to release. These guys are responsible for shrugging your shoulders as well as helping rotate the shoulder blade when we lift our arms up. These are the ones that are typically huge on the rugby players or weightlifters but typically both tight and weak on your average office worker. They need to be strong on EVERYONE as the trapezius group of muscles (upper/mid/low) travel all the way from the mid back all the way up to the base of the skull and have an crucial role to play with controlling the torso, neck and shoulders – a very important muscle to have working to the best of it’s ability.
The levator scapulae muscle is located on the top inner corner of the shoulder blade. As the name would suggest this muscle is responsible for elevating the scapula (shoulder blade). As we often see clients with one shoulder sitting higher than the other this is a good place to start as a level starting position is always a strong starting position.
The SCM or in fancy terms sternocleidomastoid is responsible for rotating and flexing the head forward which is great…when it’s working properly. What we often come across with this muscle is as it gets tighter it pulls the chin forward and down. The issue with this is to prevent us from constantly staring at the ground we must hyper extend the neck just to bring out head back to a neutral position. Now times this by multiple days, weeks, years and you can probably imagine the result. PAIN and DYSFUNCTION.
Due to the delicate nature of the neck when stretching the surrounding soft tissue, in general less is more. We always say “stretch to strain not pain” so what that means is you do want to be feeling the stretch but not to the point where its uncomfortable and certainly well before it’s painful. Although a lot of the muscles in the neck are small, they can get very tight so take your time with the stretching. I personally find longer; more gentle stretches work better for the neck. Oh and if you’re a habitual neck cracker STOP IT !!
If you would like a personalised approach to treating your neck pain and stiffness book a session with Matt – your neck will thank you for it!