A pain in the neck, that’s what I had. A real one, not a metaphorical one.
Have you ever had a neck ache so bad it wouldn’t go away no matter what you tried to relieve the pressure and tension?
Massage, stretching, cracking, heat or ice, a dose of something out of a bottle of various sorts; nothing helps.
After a week of doing a lot of reading in bed where I was propped up by pillows in a variety of wonky positions, my neck was yelling and screaming at me.
The tension, despite my best expert efforts, continued to build until I felt a spillover of crankiness in my jaw and a headache building on the horizon.
I could feel a lovely [sarcasm font] knot on the lower right portion of the back of my neck.
As any quality massage therapist worth their salt would do, I zeroed in on that right-sided knot and spent some time coaxing it to relax.
It did nothing for my neck and jaw junk.
A few days later I was on the teaching staff for the next round of Neurokinetic Therapy in Chicago.
I found myself in a room full of highly achieved manual and movement therapists from a wide array of disciplines who needed to practice their manual muscle testing. I had some muscles in need of testing. Can’t do it myself, so, why not?
I took one for the team [wink].
I Had It All Wrong
The case of my Naughty Neck was not even close to what I expected it to be.
Most days in clinic, I find people have a lot of overwork happening in the muscles in the back of their neck.
These guys (neck extensors for the kinesiologically literate) like to work overtime, usually because of a history of car accidents/whiplash, and lots of hours logged sitting with slumpy posture over a computer keyboard, handheld device, or steering wheel.
There are muscles encircling your neck that function to move your head and sustain your posture. The human head weighs roughly 12 pounds.
I see a lot of only half of those muscles actually doing their job to hold and move the head.
Neck ache ensues, and left unchecked over decades, it can really wear out the hardware in your neck (read: joint changes that limit your ability to move your head around and maybe cause discomfort).
Here I was, massaging that knot on the lower part of my neck.
Remember, this wasn’t helping even a little. It was completely ineffective at relieving the ache that was building daily.
My guess was incorrect.
In my case, the knot on the back wasn’t forming because those tissues were overworking, but because they were underperforming.
The tight muscle was on the front of my neck, where it didn’t hurt, and the backside guys had no chance of keeping up.
I released the correct muscle on the front of my neck, and the painful spot on the back of my neck went away all on it’s own.
So did my jaw tension.
I could have sworn I heard it sigh with relief.
Oh wait….that was me.
This is another great example why we can’t assume and guess we know what’s going on.
When you feel pain, tightness, or tension in your body, it’s always for a reason.
It’s trying to communicate something with you about how your body is functioning.
Too often practitioners only look at the painful spot you point to, but that painful spot is only a fraction of the story.
Without actually looking at what the tissue function looks like, you are left with a guess, and like me, that guess could be wrong.
Wrong guesses keep you from feeling your best.
If you feel like you aren’t firing on all cylinders and have an ache or pain that is really cramping your style, make sure to get it checked out!
I’m currently accepting new clients and have time to do some evaluations and super sleuthing to see if what I do can help you out.
You deserve it.