To treat and cure a stiff or painful neck or shoulder, we follow the upward progression in body awareness versus gravity.I have written other articles in which I began at the feet which is the base or foundation of the whole body and then worked our way up to the ankles, knees, pelvis, waist, torso, etc.
In this article, regarding the neck and shoulder, we begin by exploring the base, or the shoulder area, to create a strong foundation that supports the neck and head. But first, what causes neck and shoulder pain in the first place?
What Causes Neck or Shoulder Pain?
The main cause of neck or shoulder pain is poor posture. You can treat and cure a stiff neck, frozen shoulders and upper back ache, even headaches and migraine by being well aware of your posture. There is no such thing as a short neck. We all possess 7 cervical vertebrae. A short neck is merely curved too deeply.
The neck supports the head, so it obvious that if the head is carried too far in front of the body instead of directly above the spine, where it belongs, the muscles at the back of the neck are doing unnecessary overtime.
Permanently tense and raised shoulders, poor sleeping habits, stress, or cold drafts also contribute to neck and shoulder pain. The overload in muscle tension just to hold your head up, but in the wrong way, can eventually escalate into chronic headaches and migraine. Oh dear, what to do, what to do?
First, let us look at the shoulder area to create the strong base needed to help the neck support the head.
The main muscles that work the shoulders are the trapezius, the pectoralis (pecs) and the latissimus dorsi (lats) muscles; their job is to move the arm. Muscles work in a chain reaction fashion. When the arm rotates inward, it takes the shoulder with it. As this happens, the muscles at the front of the shoulder tighten while the muscles of the upper back become overstretched and weak. This results in:
- kyphosis with forwarding head posture
- tight muscles in the front of the shoulder
- weak muscles in the upper back
Anyone who works for long hours at a desk is prone to this imbalance.
Correct Position of the Shoulder Joint
While the pecs and the lats are primary movers of the arm, the rhomboids at the back provide stability to the shoulder joint. As the pecs and lats work to rotate the arm inward the rhomboids in the upper back become weak. This causes the shoulder joint to go too far forward, out of its neutral alignment, beyond its range of safety.
This can be avoided by strengthening the upper back, using the rhomboids. Get off your chair for a minute and do the following shoulder alignment move to feel the rhomboid muscles putting your shoulders back into their correct place.
- Stand up with the arms hanging loosely by your sides, like the sleeves of an empty coat.
- Rotate the wrists outward as far as possible.
- Release the rotation in the lower arm (turn your palms in towards your thighs from the elbow) BUT…
- Keep the shoulders and upper arm in the same place as in 2. above.
You should feel a widening and flattening of the area immediately in front of your shoulder, allowing the shoulder joint to be placed at the side of your body rather than in front of it. That is where your shoulder likes to live most comfortably.