Balance Blog

May 30th

Stress is a Pain in the Neck!

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There are many different reasons for neck pain. Some are medical, while some are caused by plain old stress.  Excessive noise, financial worries, and even what to fix for dinner can add to the stress of your day. For many, this stress lives in the neck, causing discomfort or outright pain due to tight muscles.  Daily stress can wear on your posture, including misalignment of the cervical vertebrae – your neck bones.  That’s what we call a pain in the neck.  

In today’s world of technological dependence, many new stressors add to stress-related neck pain. Poor posture while playing such games as X-Box or Playstation is one such factor. The hours many of us spend hunched over a computer at work or using a smartphone is also a culprit.  The ever increasing pace of society brings more stress every day, as a multitude of demands are made of us.  As a result, people often find themselves progressing more into “forward head” posture – bringing the head and shoulders forward, as if carrying a heavy load.  For each inch that the head is brought forward from its normal neutral position, more weight is added for the neck to handle.  “For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” -Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

We’ve all heard about how to resolve stress in our lives (daily meditation, yoga, deep breathing, gentle exercise and massage are often recommended), but what can we do about this neck pain? The first step is to find out what could be causing the pain.  It could be that changing something simple can help, such as how you carry a child, switching up how you hold a purse, or changing where you position your phone when texting.  If it’s an old injury, such as whiplash, massage can often help work out the built-up scar tissue and adhesions that cause chronic pain.  A massage therapist skilled in assessment will also take your history, look at your structure and posture, and make suggestions for home care as part of a plan to help alleviate the pain.  In some cases, such as a possible bulging or herniated disc, your massage therapist may suggest that a call to the doctor is in order.

Whatever the case, don’t give up on getting rid of that stress and pain in the neck.

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