Struggling With A Stiff Neck?

Stuggling With A Stiff Neck?

One of the common issues that clients come to see me about is a stiff neck.  This can be really debilitating and painful, as well as being very inconvenient when you need to look behind you and find that you can’t.  This image illustrates just what I am talking about!

Two of the main causes are: poor posture; usually due to sitting in the same position for too long, such as looking at a mobile phone or a computer screen at the wrong angle, or perhaps sitting knitting or sewing with your neck in a forward position for a long period of time; or due to an injury such as a car accident or a fall.

There is usually pain in the neck when trying to turn your head, accompanied by all sorts of alarming cracking and creaking noises. If it is very severe just holding your head up straight will be painful.  If it is due to poor posture, then this can come on gradually until you become aware of an inability to turn your head when reversing or trying to look behind you. 

Sometimes the pain is not just in the neck but also in the shoulder, upper back, and possibly in one or both arms.  You may be able to move your head freely one side but not the other.  When you observe people with a stiff neck, they often have to move their entire upper body around when they want to look behind them. 

Sometimes a stiff neck clears up on its own.  It depends on the severity and the cause of the problem and so it can vary from a few days to a few weeks.   If a stiff neck lasts longer than this then you may need to seek help from your GP or a therapist. 

It isn’t commonly known that neck pain can also be caused by an issue in the jaw, and a good therapist will be able to help you with this. Pain doesn’t always originate where you can feel it.

Below I have listed some self-help techniques which you can easily do at home.

  • When to Seek help.  If the pain and lack of mobility continues for more than a few weeks, then it is recommended that you get yourself checked at the GP. 
  • Red Flags. If severe neck pain commenced after an accident, then you should seek help without delay.  If your stiff neck is accompanied by nausea, fever, severe headache, vomiting then seek help immediately.
  • Time.  Most times a stiff neck caused by poor posture will ease off by itself in a few days to a few weeks. Time may be all that is needed for the damaged tissues to heal. 
  • Heat and Ice.  If there is pain, then you can apply a heat pad or ice pad for the first couple of days.  Experiment to see which helps the most as it varies from person to person. 
  • Medication. You can buy over the counter medication such as ibuprofen to help provide temporary relief from the pain.  Seek the advice of your pharmacist.
  • Support.  Advice used to be to wear a neck collar, but this is no longer recommended.  It is better to keep your neck unrestricted, and to keep it moving gently and slowly.
  • Healing.  It is important to remember that the body is a self-healing organism and can usually heal itself without requiring any intervention. 
  • Rest.  If the neck pain came on after a strain or injury, then the tissues are likely to have been damaged, so it is important to rest for a couple of days to allow the damaged tissues to heal. This means avoiding excessive twisting or movement of the neck such as gym, swimming, sports.  After a few days you can start to move the neck actively again.
  • Self-Massage.  The simplest technique is to roll up a towel.  Lay down on the floor (a bed is too soft) and place the rolled up towel under your neck.  Gently roll your head from side to side making sure your head is relaxed.
  • Exercises.  The best exercises are the simplest ones.  Do not push further than the point where you feel resistance.  Repeat each exercise several times and do at least twice daily.  If you consistently carry out these exercises regularly you will find that it helps a great deal.
    • Turn your head from left to right slowly and carefully.
    • Drop your chin down to your chest and then look up to the ceiling.
    • Take your right ear to your right shoulder, and then take your left ear to your left shoulder.
  • Therapy.  If restriction continues, a therapy such as Bowen Technique, massage, chiropractic or osteopathy will help to relax and relieve the tightness and pain, allowing for freer neck rotation.  It is important to keep doing gentle neck exercises (above) and to reconsider your postural habits.

I hope you have found this article useful.  Do contact me if you have any questions.

Who Am I?

Sue Jaycock Bowen Therapist

My name is Sue Jaycock, I am a Bowen Therapist and a Massage Therapist working from my home clinic in Daventry, Northamptonshire. 

Here is a review from one of my clients who had neck pain.   You can read more here:

“I went to Sue because of a stiff & clicky neck. Her treatment was gentle, but really effective. Thoroughly recommended.” SW

However, Bowen isn’t just for back pain! It’s an amazing therapy for all sorts of musculoskeletal issues, aches and pains, stress and tension. Find out more here.

If you live in the Daventry area and you would like to know more about having a Bowen session with me, do get in touch.

Thanks for reading.

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An Interview with Yoga Teacher – Rebecca Gartshore

An Interview with Yoga Teacher - Rebecca GartshoreBody in Balance:

Recently, to my delight, I discovered a yoga class in the hall just across the road, and not only that, classes are on my day off.  Absolutely perfect!  I absolutely love my yoga classes.  I come out feeling calmer, taller and more balanced.

As a Bowen therapist I definitely recommend clients to go along to an exercise class such as yoga, pilates or a somatics type class.  This is because Bowen Therapists are primarily working on fascia, and when fascia becomes tight due to us sitting too much, not moving enough, moving in habitually poor ways because of our job, or hobby, not listening to our body as it – then problems occur and we end up losing our range of movement, we find ourselves fixed in a dysfunctional pattern and pain ensues.

Yoga and Bowen:

Bowen is all about releasing tension in the fascia and helping the body to get back into balance.  It’s about listening to your body and being aware.  This is why Bowen and yoga, pilates or somatics mesh so well together.  Every day I see clients with back and neck pain, and a myriad other issues, and their recovery is so much faster if they are attending a regular class.

An Interview with Yoga Teacher – Rebecca Gartshore:

With this in mind, I asked my lovely yoga instructor, Rebecca Gartshore a few questions about what she does so well:

Q:  Rebecca, can you tell me why did you decide to become a yoga teacher, and what made you decide on yoga?

I had always loved practising yoga when I worked as a fashion buyer, recognising that it was the one time I could stop to listen to my body and really relax my mind. When my son was born I needed to find a new path to match the new chapter in my life and yoga seemed like a great solution. I first trained as a teacher for children, to fit around my son, loving the interaction with kids and helping them to relax. As my son grew, I was able to grow my business and so qualified to teach adults, yoga as therapy, yoga for pregnancy and post natal.

Q:  What are the 3 biggest benefits you can offer people?

To help them to learn to listen to their bodies, get control back if they are suffering from chronic pain or recovering from an operation and to learn to switch off. Relaxation is the key to a healthy body and mind

Q:  What are the most popular issues that clients ask you to help with?

Most definitely in the group classes, it’s a bad back and aching shoulders. These are almost always linked to poor posture, too long spent over a laptop or steering wheel and a weak core. Our tummy is one of the first things to stop talking to us and the last one to wake up and listen!

Q:  What are the most popular misconceptions about what you do?

That the classes are all about omming and chanting. People are so surprised by how stretched they feel and that they find muscles they never knew they had. Almost all leave feeling taller, lighter and very relaxed.

Q:  What drives you nuts?

When I get body dyslexic! Sometime I get so wrapped up in the moves I’m teaching, I almost switch off and before you know it, I’ve come back to reality and everyone is waiting for me to get my lefts and rights in order.

Q:  Can you give 3 tips that anyone can follow that will help them with their wellbeing?

To roll your shoulders back as often as you can, when you stop at traffic lights and after every email. Start the day with a mug of warm water and lemon, it will neutralise your tummy, help digestion and kick start your metabolism. Learn to take deep breaths when you feel stressed and find a positive part of every day, it will keep you smiling.

Q:  If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

To take time before making a decision. Don’t always believe that you know what your life should look like and understand that we live in a world of changing chapters. To smile and always leave a room knowing that you have tried to make as many people as you can happy – happiness is infectious but so is anger. Chose the better option.

An Interview with Yoga Teacher - Rebecca GartshoreQ:  What are the most read/loved books on your bookshelf?

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, utterly heart warming and life changing. The Art of Happiness by the Dali Lama – a great book to dip into when you need to know where to go next.

Q:  A surprising fact about you?

I suffer terribly from vertigo but love the idea of sky diving, I haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to manage it yet….

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for taking part in my blog post.   If you decide to go along to a yoga class I can assure you that you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, plus Rebecca gives you the warmest welcome.

To find out more about Rebecca’s classes and find out how you can benefit from yoga please visit her website www.Yogasenses.weebly.com or her Facebook page www.facebook.com/yogasenses or email her directly at yogasenses1@gmail.com

To find out more about how Bowen Technique can help you, please visit my website www.choosewellbeing.co.uk, email me info@choosewellbeing.co.uk or give me a call.

Thanks for reading!

3 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care

3 tips for neck and shoulder pain3 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care Between Appointments

People with neck and shoulder issues sometimes have their pain return before their next Bowen or aromatherapy appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while working on the computer or any of the other million things you do.
 
What can you do between appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.
 

Take a Break:

Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, there are some simple exercises you can do which will help you to keep flexible.

Self-massage:

Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball and check out these techniques.
 

Choose the Right Pillow:

You spend about a third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day.
 
A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!
Thanks for reading.
Sue