Ouch! Can you see how forward the head is from the shoulders? That is a ton of weight hanging on those poor cervical vertebrae.
When the neck hurts you often will experience headaches, trouble with full range of motion like looking over your shoulder, shooting pains, or just plain old stiff and throbbing that makes holding up your bowling-ball of a head very tiring. So... the point? Whether you're a redneck or neck-tied or just running through life at breakneck speed we have the best exercises for releasing your neck.
Neck strengthening, alignment, stretching and releasing are required ultimately for a healthy neck, but in this post we will start with release and later we can align and strengthen.
Release is the first thing that I have clients do when they are in pain. It is really like giving yourself a massage using just some small balls and your own body weight. Get yourself some balls. Really. Any will just about do, but these are my favorite.
Base of Neck, Top of Thoracic Spine (T1).
Start at the bottom of the neck/top of the thoracic spine with two small yoga tune up balls (you can use any small sized balls that you have, being careful not to use something too firm, this should not be excruciating. I love the yoga tune up balls because they are a good firmness and the texture seems to really grab the skin and help get into the tissues.
a. Lift the hips. for extra comfort use a yoga block.
b. Lift the arms slowly and breathe. Your goal is to relax into the pressure, not right against it.
c. Chug your body up and down using the motion o the heels pulling towards the gluteals and back.
Upper Back (T1-T3)
Chug the balls down a couple inches, finding a new spot that feels like it needs to be released. Breathe into the balls. To intensify:
a. Tuck chin and lift slightly with the hips down. Putting your weight on the ball and hands behind your head.
b. Rotate right and left taking one elbow to the floor and then the other.
c. Hold on the side that is tighter and do little chugs or just breathe into the balls letting the tissue melt over them.
Between the Scapula (Shoulder Blades), (T3-T6)
a. Taking the arms up to the sky, palms facing each other and reach up spreading your scapula wide. With your breath soften the shoulders back down and together
b. Give yourself a big hug, and you deserve it! Breathe right into any tension and let it go!
Base of Scapula and lower, T7-T9.
a. Curling up with your hands holding the weight of your head and breath into the balls.
b. Hold the ribs into the balls and you inhale and lengthen your spine back down.
Just let the weight of the head rest on the balls just under the knobby bones at the base of the skull, the occipitals.
This sequence can take 2 minutes or 20 minutes. It will bring benefit even with 2 minutes. If this is a chronic area of pain, ease into the longer sessions, but try to do it more frequently. Then you can wear any v-neck you want, while rubbernecking on the highway, pain free and and with full range of motion!