The pain a stiff neck brings about can be very bothersome and serve as a hindrance when it comes to carrying out the tasks that we need to do everyday. But what exactly causes this tightness in our necks?
I was thinking about just general ways that I can give you a little bit of help with some aches and pains. As you know, I’ve tried to specialize in musculoskeletal, hence the name. We also look at what’s going on with the connective tissue as well. Things about joints, the fascia, the nervous system and ways to actually make you feel like you are feeling stable.
Today, I’m going to focus on the neck and give you some tips on how you can relieve a ropy and bandy scalene if you’re on your own or cannot come into the clinic to see someone like me.
Causes of Stiff Neck:
- Looking down for a long period while reading, writing, or using your phone;
- Excessive or vigorous movement of the neck;
- Sleeping in the wrong position, which exerts too much pressure on the neck
- Clenching the jaw;
- High stress levels;
- Medical conditions such as osteoarthritis and spinal disorders
- Trauma to the neck or back due to injuries, a hunched posture, or picking heavy weights; and
- Sudden movement of the head due to whiplash, which can pull your neck muscles and also can give rise to other serious symptoms.
Source: Vaughan, J. (2021)
- Feel along the suboccipital ridge all the way along, both sides, to see if they feel even.
- The area that feels painful, is not the area of complaint.
- Gently tuck your chin down and feel around the back of the lower part of your skull (the top 3 survival muscles) and feel around the lateral joints.
- Feel with two fingers and do some cross-fiber work .
- Keep your shoulders down so you do not activate the trapezius muscles.
- Once you find the tight ridge, palpate and see if you can feel into the area where the ribs are.
- Feel for the upper trapezius and duck anteriorly to it, then press your fingers down into that tight space.
- Palpate around the other side to see if it’s the same or different.
- Drop your ear down to give a little bit of softness to the tissue of the lateral neck which will allow you to really sink deeper into the muscle.
- Press and depress onto that region of the lower neck, it is the area that feels like it would be accessing your first rib, by doing this movement we are also making small changes to the restrictions or tightness over the second rib.
- Laterally flex away from the area and give yourself a little active stretch while sinking down a little deeper.
- As you work along your neck, press towards it and then gently glide away.
- Repeat the process one more time this time moving a little more medially. Come closer to the neck dropping down and in.
- Start to pull away and take the chin away, then try to access those fibers for posterior scalene, dropping down and back then coming along and forward.
- Palpate and see if that made a difference. The scalene should be feeling less taught and bandy, and you should feel better through the range.
I want you to think about the things that make a difference to the neck. Sometimes we have to look at other distal attachments. We can apply joint play on our first and second ribs if they are stiff, palpate along the clavicle where the subclavius is and work on those fibres. Focusing also on the pectoralis major and minor to improve functional movement of the clavicle and shoulder joints. Assess one side versus the other to see if the problems felt in the neck can be compared to and aligned with the tightness felt in the chest tissues.
Watching the video attached to this blog will assist you greatly in some self-treatment options whenever you feel restricted in the neck.
Source: Vaughan, J. (2021) How to Get Rid of a Stiff Neck. eMediHealth. Retrieved from https://www.emedihealth.com/bones-joints/manage-stiff-neck#some_causes_of_a_stiff_neck