Sports Massage with Jo Gaskill of Fit2you in Poole and Bournemouth, Dorset can help alleviate pain and prevent it returning.

Most neck pain that is not caused by trauma but has poor posture at its root. Modern lifestyles and working practice are increasingly sedentary; most of us are seated at a desk or traveling for much of the day, generally in the same, fixed position. Maintaining the same posture for prolonged periods causes muscle fatigue and under these circumstances we slouch, round our shoulders and develop forward head carriage, (where the head is in front of the shoulders).

The health of the neck is a function of to the curvature of the spine and the placerment of the head. The weight of the average human head is around 5kg and when nicely balanced on the neck and shoulders it doesn’t take much effort to hold it in place, but in forward head carriage, it can have an apparent weight of more than 15kg. This posture causes the muscles of the upper back to continually overwork to counterbalance the pull of gravity on the forward head.

Symptoms may begin as relatively benign generalized aching, but the muscles that elevate the shoulders, extend, rotate and side bend the neck and some muscles of the chest (upper trapezius, scalenes, suboccipitals, levator scapulae, pectoralis minor) become adaptively shortened and tight. And the muscles in the front of the neck and mid-back become stretched, weak and inhibited (deep neck flexors, lower trapezius, rhomboids and serratus anterior).

Affected muscles may develop tension, tissue adhesions and trigger points (areas of extreme tenderness that are painful to touch) and cause reduced range of motion. Ligaments will be placed under excessive stress and tension where the muscle tendons join the back of the skull can initiate headaches.

The part of the neck that is particularly vulnerable to forward head carriage is the lower part of the neck, just above the shoulders. The lower cervical vertebrae (C5 and C6) may slightly slide or shear forward relative to one another as a result of the persistent pull of gravity on a forward head. Prolonged shearing of the vertebrae eventually irritates the small facet joints in the neck as well as the ligaments and soft tissues. This irritation can result in neck pain that radiates down to the shoulder blades and upper back, potentially causing adaptive changes in the soft tissues and altered movement patterns including:
– Exaggerated curve of the upper back becomes (thoracic kyphosis)
– Compression of the joints of the cervical spine, increasing the risk of nerve damage, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis
– The shoulder blades (scapulae) rotate downwards, decreasing range of movement of the neck and shoulder and risking shoulder impingement
– Other symptoms/conditions may result, from numbness and tingling in the arms to problems with the jaw.

The process of reversing or reducing the effects of poor posture involves education, self-awareness, exercise and massage. Sports Massage by Fit2you aims to break the pain-spasm-pain cycle long enough to initiate self-healing and repair. It will also help to stretch short tight muscle and activate weak inhibited muscle.  Once the body has begun the process of repair, the original cause of the pain i.e. poor posture, must be addressed. This is achieved through continued maintenance Sports Massage along with exercise rehabilitation, e.g. Pilates, which, via targeted strengthening and stretching will help achieve muscle balance to help prevent repeat injury. It is equally important to assess your workplace ergonomics, if employed, you should have access to an Occupational Therapist though your HR Team.

Fit2you delivers sports massage therapy, personal training, exercise rehabilitation and Pilates from your home, work place as well as from beaches and parks in and around Poole and Bournemouth.

Written by: Jo Gaskill

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