Five Reasons You Have a Stiff Neck

You know the feeling. You turn your head and experience pain or soreness and/or a decreased range of motion. The pain can last a moment or show up literally every day. Neck pain is pretty common, too. The CDC reports that nearly one in five of us have experienced neck pain in the last three months.

In general, neck pain is usually caused by muscles weakening over time from misuse or environmental factors. Here are five of the most common reasons why your neck might be stiff, followed by an idea for a wonderful remedy.

1. You’re sleeping wrong. The culprit could be an old or ill-fitting pillow, or the way your body is positioned during sleep, or both. In general, sleeping on your stomach doesn’t help your sleep posture. It affects your lower back and neck because you’ll likely end up twisting your head one way or another throughout the night. Try sleeping only on your side or back.

2. You’re sitting incorrectly at work. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but looking downward at a computer monitor all day will cause muscles around the neck joints to tire, overstretch and weaken.  The same thing can happen if you drive for a living and look down at your smartphone a lot. First, don’t look at your smartphone while you’re driving (other drivers will thank you) and get an ergonomic evaluation at work. Your sitting posture is extremely important for more than just reducing a stiff neck. Continue reading “Five Reasons You Have a Stiff Neck”

Wellness Check Up

It’s good to stop and take a look at yourself now and then. In addition to the good things in life, we all get a few challenges. Sometimes you get injured. Sometimes you become ill. Sometimes your work, your family and your relationships cause you stress. Sometimes your muscles ache. And sometimes, you are just tired and need a break from your insane schedule. There’s a growing base of research that suggests that regular massage can have a profound positive effect on most of the challenges you face.

Take a look at this list of common wellness issues and check any and all that apply to you, then check the list below to see how you can more toward more wellness:

___ I am under stress from a relationship, from work, or just life in general.

___ I am very active and sometimes experience aches and pains

___ I am not as active as I should be and sometimes experience stiffness and soreness

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Massage and Office Productivity

Chances are, you are not the queen or king of good posture. Your workstation ergonomics are less than wonderful and you sit for long periods staring at a bright computer monitor. Pile on top of that a boatload of deadlines and office politics and it can all add up to anything from slacking off at work to having an epic meltdown,

We’re only human, and eventually, all that unnatural activity can start to wear on our bodies and minds. You suddenly start to feel aches and pain, have trouble falling asleep, or get headaches, or find it difficult to stay on task. And sometimes, you’re even ready to just chuck it all out the window and move to the beach.

Massage is a smart option

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Sore SCM?

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle

Everybody has two of them and they’re very often the storage point for stress and strain. Say hello to your Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles. The muscles are attached to the base of your skull just behind your ear and extend down your neck and toward the front of your body and attach to the clavicle (collar bone).

What does the muscle do?

The muscle is responsible for rotating and flexing your neck. The SCM also helps you breath in (inspiration). Interestingly, while the muscle seems to store stress, it rarely hurts. Instead it just causes strain on other muscles and tension can present itself in the form of headaches, facial pain, jaw tension and even dizziness, blurry vision and muffled hearing.

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Know Someone Who Walks Like a Duck?

Almost 75% of Americans will  will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives.  In children, “duck walk” and the opposite “pigeon toed” are both common, and as hip muscles develop and trunk bones align, these temporary abnormalities are usually corrected naturally. Some people, however, retain the “walks like a duck” posture, or develop it later in life.

Causes of “duck walking”

The medical term for “walks like a duck” is “out-toeing” and it can be caused by heredity (rarely), poor habits, or, more commonly, imbalances in the way the muscles hold, stabilize and rotate your hips. Specifically, the muscles involved in hip rotation are externally rotating your hip joints causing your legs turn turn out – and the feel follow.

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Fix Hunched Shoulders Before It’s Too Late

Ever catch yourself leaning forward while you stare at your computer display You’re back is curved, your shoulders rounded, your chin jutted out and your arms curled up like some kind of high-tech T-Rex? Welcome to “hunched shoulder” posture. Hunched shoulders, sometimes called “rolled shoulders” are very common, especially among office workers, and are a major contributor to the 80% of Americans that experience back pain at some time.

How you get hunched shoulders

Usually, a forward shoulder posture comes from incorrect posture while sitting for long periods of time. In today’s world, that likely means hunching (literally) over a keyboard all day. Incorrect posture while sitting is very dependent on the type and height of your chair, the height of your keyboard, and the height and position of your computer screen. There IS a ‘wrong way’ to sit. Continue reading “Fix Hunched Shoulders Before It’s Too Late”

Six Ways to Improve Your Posture

postureposesOver time, gravity and bad habits can take their toll on your body and try to declare victory over the structural muscles that keep our bones and muscles aligned. The result is poor posture.

Classic signs of poor posture include rounded shoulders, a jutted chin, a pot belly, bent knees when standing or walking, back pain, muscle fatigue, and headaches. While we can’t fight gravity, we can take control of posture and do things the help keep muscles strong and your body trained for better posture.

1  Know what good posture looks like. Check yourself out in a mirror. Good posture while standing is a straight back, squared shoulders, chin up, chest out, stomach in, feet forward, your hips and knees in a neutral position. If you can draw a straight line from your earlobe through your shoulder, hip, knee, to the middle of your ankle, you’re good!

2  Sit up straight. Your mom was right. Use a chair that offers lower back support and sit all the way back against the back of the chair. Keep both feet on the ground or footrest. Adjust the height so your arms are flexed at 75-90 degrees at the elbow. Use this technique when driving, too! Continue reading “Six Ways to Improve Your Posture”

What is Deep Tissue Massage, Really?

What is deep tissue and how is it beneficial?

Many people think “deep tissue” means “huge amounts of pressure” and “it should hurt a lot”.  The fact is, deep tissue really means neither of those.  True deep tissue work is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning and invigorating layers of muscle and connective tissue that are deeper inside the body. With deep tissue, the therapist can use specialized techniques to reach muscles positioned “under” or “behind” surface muscles.

Deep tissue is especially helpful for chronic aches and pains and issues like a stiff neck and/or shoulders, sore upper back, low back pain tight leg muscles, and more.

According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

What happens during the session?

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What is ANMT?

ANMTANMT is an acronym for Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy.  To learn ANMT, certified massage therapists complete an additional 450 hours of continuing education and learn to evaluate and differentiate between myofascial pain and disfunction, as opposed to injury, and to employe effective techniques to address these issues with great results.

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You Don’t Have To Put Up With Back Pain

A recent study conducted at the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University found that back pain is the most common cause of workdays lost in the US. It is the 2nd most common cause of visits to the doctor’s office and experts estimate that 80% of the population will have a back pain issue at some point in their lives. Not only are we a society in pain, but when it gets bad enough we lose work, money, and then have to pay in an attempt to relieve the pain. Many of us are currently facing these problems and are met with the question of how do I get better and how do I decrease the likelihood that the pain will return. In order to determine the best way to answer these questions, we must first understand what is causing the pain from a structural and physiological standpoint.

Figure 1

Webster’s dictionary defines pain as “the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body.” So how do our bodies interpret these “hurts.” What it boils down to is the irritation of nerves. Nerves form an extensive meshwork that traverses every square inch of our bodies and allows our brain to interpret our environment. Nerves can be irritated either by direct trauma or the processes of inflammation. Inflammation is a cellular/chemical storm that takes place at the site of pain to conduct the healing process. This brings us to the standard pain theory diagram illustrated in figure 1.

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It’s About How You SIT

howtositHow you sit when you’re working is something 100% in your control.  Poor sitting posture can result in lower back injuries and contribute to the poor positioning of other parts of the body, such as the arms, wrists, and legs.  You can make some small changes that can have a big impact on your posture and in turn reduce chronic pain in your arms, fingers, lower back and legs.

There are three main factors that influence your sitting posture: vision, reach, and postural support.

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