Stiff neck? Do you try to adjust your own neck in hopes something pops, and you can feel some relief? Shoulder just won’t seem to sit right? Head will turn all the way one and can’t turn even the slightest in the opposite direction? Sounds like you need some good old upper body work.
I would be lying if I didn’t say most of my massages, relaxing or otherwise, aren’t spend on the upper half of the body. Most working adults suffer from some form of upper body pain, whether it starts in “right between the shoulders” or acts like a “dull ache at the base of my skulls, and travels down”. Clients think they might be crazy with how much tension they feel through out the shoulders, but the muscles are so tense you can find the knots in moments.
Let us look at some of the muscles the back has to offer:
Now lets look at the chest muscles, which work with the back and can cause neck pain as well:
There are a good amount of muscles that go into causing you that pain in between the shoulders. We should also understand that when one muscles moves and works that another muscle has to relax in order for that muscle to contract. Clients don’t think of the chest muscles as being as important as working the traps or rhomboid area, but a properly stretched chest can help with neck pain.
I like to make sure to work the whole when allotted the time with clients. Having an ample chance to work on the neck and shoulder while a client is supine is great to open those areas up. Then move the client prone, and work from the feet up. I think that working on the legs and glutes is just as important as getting that upper back work in. Having a chance to release the tense in the legs can bring relief from the pulling due to muscle insertions that live in many different areas of the body.
Here are some stretches for your everyday life: Upper Body Stretches and Neck Stretches. I ask my clients to make these a habit at home and work to aid in the healing process of their body. It also just helps keeps you going until you can get your next massage if you are in dire need. Preform each stretch roughly 3 times with a breath count of 3 to 5 breathes a stretch.
Stephanie Friedersdorff, LMT (College Station, TX)
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