Pain in the neck and why why you have it

Fix the pain in the neck

If your neck hurts while or after doing Pilates, let’s say in your 100’s, something’s up. First off: where does it hurt? 1. front or 2. back.

1. The front hurts:

Congratulations, you’re working your deep neck flexors and if you sit in front of a computer all day, they pretty much don’t exist. The computer posture or “turtle neck” is connected to many other imbalances (dysfunctions) in our body. Achy neck, tight and rounded forward shoulders, back pain… working your neck will tremendously improve all of the above. It’s important to know HOW to work your neck.

2. The back hurts

Check and see what muscles are actually contracted while lifting. Front or back. My bet: your muscles in the back of your neck are working (habitually holding your head up) and it’s not their job, at least in that position! Muscles pull bones. So get into the front of the neck to pull your head up, rather than pushing from the back. Start by just lifting the neck a tiny bit. Is the front activating? Then proceed to TILT your head on your neck, chin directionally moving towards the sternum to functionally stretch the back. Keep looking towards your toes or pubic bone to avoid the back muscles taking over. Keep the brain back to avoid more pushing from the back.

Important here:

If you can’t sustain the position for your 100’s, lower down. Don’t practice the shitty position. All you get is …. yeah, right! Be humble. Don’t do it because the neighbor is doing it too. Do YOU! Your instructor should be watching you and correct you if your head position is wrong. If your neck is weak, it will be challenging and maybe “hurting” a bit, but know you’re also getting stronger.

Please keep in mind, it takes time and effort to change your patterns, but know, you can change them!!!

 

#risepilates #risepilatessantafe#pilatesstrong #pilatesmat #100s#pilatesismytherapy #noglutesnoglory#fitspo #fitfam #fitfoodie #fitgirl #fitlife#fitnessmotivation #fitness #fitstagram#fitnessjourney #classicalpilates#originalpilates #returntolife #contrology#resist #counterrotate #anticipate

Show here: me and my double chin doing the 100’s.

Workshop with Irene Dowd – a resilient Neck

Throw back:

In February (2013), I once again had the opportunity to study with Irene Dowd. She is such a legend in the world of anatomy and movement and I always jump on every opportunity to learn from her. This was a 3 hr. workshop on the neck, giving us simple, yet effective strategies for everyone (with and without equipment) to be done throughout the day, sitting at your desk to create ease in your neck and shoulders.

How we socially interact with our face, the way we listen (does one ear hear better than the other? If so you are more likely to present that ear and move your neck and head off-center) how we look, taste and chew is influenced by the way we move our necks.

Learning by doing:

First we located the cervical vertebrae, palpating them and looking at their movement possibilities. We teamed up and observed our partners range of motion in a “yes” and “no” motion. The atlanto-occipital joint = yes, has about 15-20 degrees of flexion and extension combined. The atlanto-axial joint =no has about 35-40 degrees of rotation on each side. Combining flexion/ extension and rotation is a whole different ballgame. We observed the lack of symmetry and imbalances in ourselves and were prompted to write down our scores to compare them, after we did the mini-movement sequences Irene has developed. What a surprise, all of us had either evened out imbalances or increased range of motion.

Posterior atlantoöccipital membrane and atlant...

Posterior atlantoöccipital membrane and atlantoaxial ligament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The muscles of the neck work synergistically with our eyes. You can test this by putting your hands at the back of your neck, right underneath the skull at either side of your cervical spine with slight pressure. Look straight ahead and then to the left, without moving your head and then to the right. It is very subtle, but you can feel the muscles activating and preparing to move your head. You might have to try this a couple of times before you first feel it. This means, where your eyes go during exercise, your neck wants to rotate your head to. So be aware where you look when you rotate your spine. If your eyes stay straight, your brain is not able to tell your body to move and the range of motion you experience in your rotation is much smaller or might feel constricted.The same goes for flexion (Ab-curl, “crunch”) look at the ceiling first and start the movement with your eyes, wandering across the ceiling to the wall in front of you, to your knees (they may be in the tabletop position or feet on the floor) and experience an easier, possibly increased flexion in your thoracic spine and more ease (or work in the front neck, which is desired in cervical flexion) in performing the 100’s.

Muscles of the neck. Anterior view.

Muscles of the neck. Anterior view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know

that we have more muscles in the back of the neck than in the front?  The posterior (in the back) muscles support our head as we reach our faces forward (palpate by putting your hands on the neck and move your head forward). Too much reaching forward (by listening, looking, eating, talking) will fatigue those muscles and one might even feel pain. Also, our brain being in the back of our skull is much heavier than the front of our face, needs to be balanced out.

The muscles on the side and in the front are less numerous and are very important for balancing our head. They are usually underdeveloped, especially sitting at a desk all day doing computer work (I can feel my posterior muscles screaming at me already). Tilting your head backwards gives ease to the posterior muscles and allows them to relax for a while.

Another blog post with exercises will follow

Pushing the head forward resisting gently with your hand pressing against your forehead will activate the anterior neck muscles and put them to work.

Let’s leave it here for now, although there are many more interesting facts, if you have any questions about the micro-movement series, release techniques and strengthening exercises, contact me!  Just remember less is more when it comes to awakening muscles that are not quite working as they should, listen to your body, if it feels wrong, don’t do it and be aware of your range of motion. The way you sit and carry your head throughout the day is so important, how you talk, chew and look at your iPad (reading with it sitting on your laps for a long period of time might possibly be less desirable after you read this post).

Irene’s workshop schedule can be found here:http://www.nohopilates.com/workshops.htm

Irene and co-teacher Steven Fetherhuff demonstrating thoracic rotation.

 

Stop cracking your knuckles!

I found this little video today, and I can’t say how happy I am about it.

It shows very simply what happens to your joints when you pop or crack your fingers, hip, neck, etc. I used to be a big “neck cracker”. Until I found out what happens and that the cracking actually increases the swelling that makes you want to crack the joint even more. A vicious cycle.

Not just the swelling and constant pulling and stretching on ligaments and tendons but just a plain old bad habit. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody, even if this clip says that there is no evidence for causing Arthritis. Destabilizing your body in any which way is not good. The Central Nervous System gets the message of “danger, we are loosing something here” and tightens up muscles around that joint. These muscles might not shut off when the “danger” is over and we become chronically tight. Especially muscles of surrounding joints. shoulders, upper back, even the lower back suffers if the neck is out of whack. In the end we are a sum of our dysfunctions and pain is the norm. Not a life I’d like to live…

How do you kick the habit?

Just don’t do it. Become aware. Realize when you want to crack and catch yourself before you start cracking. Choose not to do it. End of story. After a while (it can take up to a couple of months) you won’t find the need to do it anymore. The body heals and self regulates pretty well.

Wanna kick your cracking habit?

Questions? Contact me at Chantall@risepilates.com

 

X-rayed movement, a clip worth watching

I’m not advocating for people to take a yoga class necessarily. I do like yoga but I think most people doing yoga shouldn’t be, especially in a group setting where the teacher has little to no chance to give appropriate corrections or is able to verbally cue one safely through the practice. I really only trust my body into the hands of one or two yoga teachers, the same thing applies to taking Pilates classes (well, maybe 4).

A wheel pose is not something I would ever want to put my body into. Why you ask? If I was supposed to be able to backbend to this extreme, I’d be able to do it without any issue. We are flexion biased “animals”. I could go on and on over this subject, maybe another time. I digress….

Here is a clip that’s pretty awesome and around 1.39min you can see the radius and ulnar turning and I think thats pretty fascinating.