Workshop by Gabrielle Geib, Licensed Acupuncturist
Contributors: Lance Isakov, Alisa Oswalt, Karilen Mays

 
 

Workshop Takeaways:

What is Neck Pain?

Pain on the back, sides, even front of the neck. Pain in these areas can extend down into the tops of the shoulders or back, can radiate up into the back of the head around the ear, jaw, or even to the temple and eye. Due to where the various neck muscles attach and where their pain radiates, all of theses areas can be involved in “neck pain”.

What Causes Neck Pain?

  • Muscular pain (most common). Muscles overused -> get stuck tight -> tug on the things they’re attached to -> feelings of tension and pain, may have the feeling that the area is tight but you don’t know how to relax it.

  • Stress

  • Migraines - many people who suffer from migraines have tight neck muscles and describe the feeling of the migraine attack as beginning on the shoulders, neck or where the neck and head meet, then spreading to other parts of the head. Although migraines are a more complex issue, addressing the neck may help to minimize some migraines.

  • Nerve pain - nerve impingement or damage affecting the neck area.

  • Bone involvement - neck bones out of alignment, causing pain in the muscles and/or nerves around them.

  • Inflammation (arthritis in the joints of neck) - irritating the surrounding bones, nerves, muscles.

Self Care Practices for neck pain

GOOD POSTURE - Our skeletons are designed to support most of the weight of our body. Having good posture and alignment goes a long way towards relieving neck pain. Balancing your body on your skeletal system properly helps to reduce the strain on your muscles, which typically have to compensate when you’re in an unnatural position.

STRETCHING -  Most of us don’t stretch or move nearly as much as our bodies need to. You can even do some of these simple exercises while standing in line, at your desk at work, or while watching TV. Stretching helps to strengthen your muscles, which helps keep your bones in place, making alignment a little easier.

  • LEANING STRETCHES: Gently lean your head to one side as far as it will go, and then stretch the other side. Do a similar motion leaning forward, and then backwards. You can interlace your fingers on the back of your head to help add a little gentle pressure when leaning forward. To give yourself a bit more of a workout and help build up your neck muscles, lay flat on your back on your bed with your head hanging over a side and do the same exercises.
     
  • BOBBLE STRETCHES: Stand and let your body hang loose, then gently bounce with your knees while gently leaning your head to one side as far as it will go, and then stretching the other side while “bobbling” your head. The natural pull of gravity will help to stretch your muscles more than just doing it yourself.
     
    • TIGHTEN AND RELEASE: Tighten your shoulders as much as you can while raising them up towards your ears. Hold that position for a short while, then in a quick motion, bring your shoulders down and breathe out. Hands can just hang loose.
       
  • ARM CIRCLES: Your arms can be straight out, or just hanging loosely at your side. Use forward and backwards motions.

ACUPRESSURE POINTS

HEAT vs. Cold:

  • Heat applied to a tight area can help increase the circulation, dilate the blood vessels, and help to loosen up the muscles and relax tight areas.
  • Cold generally constricts tight areas and doesn’t help, unless the pain is severe and it’s used temporarily to help numb the pain.

GUA SHA: Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped with the edge of tool with a blunted, round edge, like a ceramic soup spoon. It is thought to stimulate new oxygenated blood flow to the areas, thus promotes metabolic cell repair, regeneration, healing and recovery. It does not cause bruising. It is the release of blood cells from the tissue bed, and does not damage capillaries. Even light scraping can cause reddish marks

PROFESSIONAL HELP: When the above methods aren’t enough, seek the help of professional services, like massage/Shiatsu therapy, chiropractic care, cranial-sacral release, or acupuncture.

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