“Oh My Aching Neck!” – Part 2

Finally, the much awaited part 2 of the series! Ok so during Part 1 of “Oh My Aching Neck” we talking about posture and what sort of strategies we can use to counteract bad posture and neck pain that results from it. In this post we will talk a little more on the “What can be done?” instead of the “How and Why” of neck pain and tension.

First and foremost, I would encourage you to check out the “Home Care” page if you already have not. That is where I direct most people who don’t have much time or want to try something simple and relaxing at home. If you have already visited there or would like to try something more keep reading below. I will be addressing two areas; the ones I am most familiar with and have seen the best effects.

Stretching

First, there is stretching. It does take some time but if you do it first thing in the morning or right before bed, trust me, if makes all the difference. I prefer the morning so it gets your blood flowing and encourages you to breathe and start your day on a good, healthy note. There are some very good and simple stretches for your neck that you can see below. If you feel motivated, stretching your back and shoulders is helpful as well since they are connected and are the foundation of your neck and head.
When stretching always remember to b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Breathing has been shown to relax the body and mind. Holding your breath only encourages your muscles to tense more. Secondly, do not stretch to pain! Stretch until it feels good and relaxing and you can push a little further each time if you’d like a deeper stretch. The point is to relax muscles, not tear them.
Below are a few images of stretches that help alleviate tension in the neck, head and upper back.

Neck Stretch

neck stretchy

Massage At Home

While it is ideal that you see your favorite LMT for a great massage to work out those specific aches and pains, we understand that you can’t always make it to see us. Massage at home is a great way to help work through some tension and soreness when you’re in a pinch (literally and figuratively!). Below are some tools and short videos that show how you can do some simple massage techniques at home.
The first tool that I use at home is a Thumbby. The Thumbby is great because it is basically like a detachable thumb. It’s slightly softer than a human thumb but the same width and you can use it to pinpoint sore spots at the base of the skull, upper traps and in between your shoulder blades very effectively. An added bonus is you can also stick it to a wall and lean against it. Perfect for those spots you can’t reach on your own. As a LMT I use this regularly. If you can’t find/afford a Thumbby I have had clients tell me they also use tennis or lacrosse balls that work well too. Click on the picture below for purchasing information.

ThumbbyProd250x250

My second favorite product is Nelly Herbal Neck Wraps (they also have larger packs for the back or eye packs as well). Nelly packs are great because not only do they have herbal benefits, they are also aromatherapeutic. Lavender, Chamomile, Vanilla, Spearmint, Eucalyptus and others make the pack not only relaxing but also invigorating. Great for headaches, neck tension and sinus congestion. The reason I love these packs more than others is because of the ability to be heated for moist heat (what most neck problems need) and to be put in the freezer. This makes the pack great for inflammation, acute injuries, chronic injuries, tension, a great way to relax after using a Thumbby or getting a massage or just a nice after work treat.

nelly pack

By no means are these meant to be cure-alls for all neck pain. If you’re experiencing pain longer than a week please seek the advice of the health professional of your choice. If your pain is out of the scope of your favorite LMT’s experience they should be able to recommend someone to you who can help. If you live in Georgia I am happy to help or recommend you to someone who can. The reason I posted these options above is from my education in training as a Licensed Massage Therapist and from my personal experience and experience with my clients. For more information on relieving muscle pain and tension please see the Home Care page on this website. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me at bethcruzlmt@gmail.com. I am happy to help you anyway I can! Enjoy the post and I’d love to hear your feedback.

“Oh My Aching Neck!”

As any LMT will tell you, the most requested area to massage is the neck and shoulders. Without a doubt you feel tension or pain there too. Because this is by far the most requested area to receive work I thought it would be helpful to address this issue with a series on neck and shoulder issues, discussing posture and ergonomics, and what we can do to help alleviate some of it. Let’s start  out this series by discussing posture. Continue reading