A pain in the neck
Last week we had a look at non-specific lower back problems and how massage therapy can help relieve the pain. Of course, when treating a client with a painful lower back I would always consider the whole body and this is the same as someone who complains of a stiff neck. Often, both head and neck strain is caused by tension in the supporting muscles of the neck and this can be because of either physical or emotional stress. This makes the muscles feel tight and uncomfortable and the pain is most often felt in the upper back and back part of the neck. You may experience tension or stress headaches which can cause discomfort; this often spreads from the upper back and neck over the head. It can feel like something is pressing on the top of your head or being wound tightly around it. Tiredness, too much screen time and the pressure of deadlines all put our muscles under pressure - not just the muscles in the neck and back, but our eyes, too. Read here how the symptoms of stress can be relieved with massage.
Sometimes neck strain comes on suddenly, this known as acute neck pain. It is very common and around two out of three of us will have neck pain at some time in our life. As with the lower back, in most cases this is not a serious problem and often the exact cause for the pain is not clear. This is called 'non-specific neck pain' and is most likely due to minor sprains or bad posture. Have a look here for tips on how to sit correctly and how good posture is important to avoid pain. If the pain continues, known as chronic pain, then massage can really help in treating the symptoms.
At the back of the neck is the cervical spine which is made up of seven vertebrae. The first two vertebrae attach the spine to the skull and allow the head to turn from side to side. The sides of the vertebrae are linked by small facet joints and there is a complex arrangement of muscles and ligaments that surround and support the spine. In between each vertebra are discs which act like shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.
Massage for neck pain
As I have already mentioned, the exact cause of neck pain is often unknown but it is usually due to minor sprains and strains to the muscles and ligaments surrounding and supporting the cervical spine. I tend to see more neck pain in people who spend much of their working day at a desk, with a ‘hunched-over’ or ‘bent-forward’ posture. Deep tissue massage would be very beneficial as it is designed to release those deep, painful muscle knots and restore muscle elasticity. The massage can help to alleviate pain, tension and stress by manipulating the soft tissue. This also releases toxins from the muscles, allowing the blood and oxygen to flow freely. Taking time out of your week for a regular massage would not only be advantageous to your neck and other painful areas but would also help you relax. It is this deep relaxation which melts away tension, reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels and can have a huge effect on your overall well-being. Massage therapy alone will not cure chronic neck pain, it will certainly help, but lifestyle choices, stress and posture all play a big part in helping you feel healthy and well again.
Monday, 3 December 2012