One of the most common conditions I see at Killarney Massage Therapy Centre is neck and shoulder pain and I think we all have at some point in our lives felt like we have pieces of cement on our shoulders especially at times when we have a lot of physical and emotional stress.
If you are a cyclist, someone who spends a lot of time driving or who spends a lot of time at a computer or on a hand held device you may find yourself with neck and shoulder pain due to overuse and/or misuse, without you even knowing it you may be encouraging neck and shoulder pain by the way you perform everyday activities.
Technology is a wonderful complement to our lives but spending too much time at a computer or on a hand held device can wreak havoc to our posture causing our heads to move forward putting a huge amount of pressure on to the small muscles of the neck and the upper back. In fact for every inch your head moves forward it gains 10lb in weight causing the muscles to work that much harder to stop the head from dropping forward. Muscles never work in isolation so this then has a knock on effect to the muscles in the upper back resulting in hyper kyphosis where the upper back rounds more than it should, this then also affects the front of the body shortening the muscles around the chest which in turn limits breathing capacity which then can affect our energy and mood and a range of other things. It is also thought that neck pain is the cause of 90% of undiagnosed headaches.
Whether you are on your computer, hand held device, reading or driving try to maintain a neutral spine, this often means drawing the ears back so they line up with the shoulders, try to have what you are looking at whether book, or computer e.t.c at eye distance to avoid looking up or down which strains the muscles of the neck. Allow the elbows to rest by your sides and the shoulders to be relaxed.
Neck and shoulder pain is often accompanied by stress so try to avoid any stressors in your life if possible, if they can’t be avoided then giving yourself some time for self care whether that be a warm bath or time for relaxation or meditation even if it’s only 5-10 minutes for you so you’re able to better deal with the stress in your life.
Heat treatments often give a welcome relief from tight, painful muscles, just simply placing a heat pack or hot water bottle on the area can remind the muscles to soften and let go. (Heat shouldn’t be used on acute conditions (the first 24-48 hours) ice is best in these instances)
So often when we spend long periods of time on our bikes, at our computers or driving our heads are fixed into one position for long periods of time our muscles love movement so doing some gentle neck stretches can help to release the muscles around the head. Here's one of the simple neck stretches and exercises you can do:
~Sit in a neutral position looking straight ahead.
~Stretch your neck downward, moving your chin toward your chest. Hold for 10 seconds.
~Slowly tilt your head one inch to the right, and to the left.
Another helpful tip is to release the chest muscles by using a rolled up towel along the bra strap line (for guys horizontally underneath the shoulder blades), lay down on the floor with either something underneath the knees if you have low back issues or flat on the ground, relax down into the rolled up towel and stay for as long as you can preferably for at least 5-10 minutes to allow the muscles to relax. This is a great way to counteract all the forward oriented movement we do throughout the day and avoiding the hyper kyphotic curve that can develop in the upper spine.
Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong! Our muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia are designed to work in harmony to keep us perfectly balanced. So when one of our muscles is strained or over used, or our pelvis is out of alignment, our entire body works hard to protect and correct the problem. All the while we continue to push ourselves while experiencing the emotional and physical stress of our jobs and lifestyles. Eventually we start to ache and everyday movements become painful simply because our bodies can no longer function correctly.
Clinical massage uses a range of advanced techniques such as Trigger Point Therapy, STR (Soft Tissue Release), Myofascial Release and Sports Stretching to achieve positive, measurable results, usually a reduction in muscular tension or pain and an increase in range of motion but it could also be to improve sporting performance, to reduce the risk of sports injury or even making the simple act of day to day life that bit easier. All techniques are non invasive and sensitive to the needs of you the client. Many people have the misconception that remedial and deep tissue massage is all about the "no pain, no gain" factor and if the practitioner goes deep and hard enough the pain and muscle tension will go away, this is not the case and often has the opposite effect where the muscles will guard themselves and grip and tighten in response .Although in a deep tissue massage the emphasis is more on realigning the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue and releasing muscular restriction, you should leave feeling relaxed and taller.
Clients consult Killarney Massage Therapy Centre following diagnosis of a range of chronic pain conditions and acute pain or sports injuries including:
Neck and shoulder tension and pain
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Hip and pelvis pain
Low back pain
Leg, knee or foot pain
At Killarney Massage Therapy Centre the massage is completely tailored to fit you following an in depth consultation to find out why you are seeking massage therapy and going through a range of motion of the area affected I can then work out what muscles and structures are involved and using some or all of the above techniques to tailor fit the right massage for you. Most clients feel a significant decrease in pain conditions and an increase in range of motion after just one treatment, however if you want to have long lasting benefits and to notice a significant difference in your body 4-6 weekly treatments are recommended to create lasting change in your body’s tissues. Studies suggest that trigger points contribute up to 93% of the pain seen in pain clinics and are the sole cause of pain as often as 85% of the time.
To find out more or to book an appointment please call Sara Cooper 087-2922851
Advanced clinical massage therapist and yoga teacher.