Less is More: Pain in the Neck

Who here gets headaches? A sore neck? Achy back? Well good news, another Less is More post to the rescue!

Many of our physical aches and pains are a result of the habitual ways we move. What is your head doing right now as you read this? Are you sitting a desk looking at the screen with your head forward from your body? Do you walk through the world with your chin slightly up? For me, I recently noticed was that I was getting a sore neck from my hair. Seriously. I had a side part and would slightly tilt my head to keep the hair out of my eyes. That constant slight tilt to one side resulted in one side of my neck feeling chronically tight. When I finally connected my neck tension to my hair, I chopped it all off. While you don't have to go to such drastic measures as chopping off your hair (Keep in mind I also was fed up with my thick wavy hair not co-operating in this dry climate and I'm also just lazy) sometimes it takes just a little bit of adjustment throughout the day to keep your neck happy and headache free.

Your neck has a vitally important job to do. It needs to hold up your beautiful head which holds those beautiful brains of yours. But there are only 7 vertebrae to do this job and in a happy and aligned neck, those vertebrae will effectively do their job. Yet most of us tend to hold our head forward from the shoulders and rest of the spine. Which means we end up compressing the vertebrae and engaging muscles in the neck to help hold the head up against gravity. What does this mean besides inevitable neck pain?

Well, when the neck is out of alignment then the information system from your brain to your body- your nervous system, can't do it's job. This can lead to poor circulation, headaches, brain fog, sleep apnea, jaw tension and tight shoulders.

Check out this before and after example of an aligned neck: (with thanks to my beautiful mom)

 

Forward head= brain fog, headaches, neck pain

Forward head= brain fog, headaches, neck pain

Aligned neck= more circulation, less tension, better moods!

Aligned neck= more circulation, less tension, better moods!

In the first picture this is her "relaxed" position. Notice how her ears are forward from her shoulders. Also notice on her neck below the hairline, there is a crinkle in her skin.

The second photo she lengthened the back of her neck bringing her ears more over her shoulders and that crinkle that was there in the first position has now gone away. That crinkle is a really good indicator of compression in the cervical vertebrae.

Look at how much happier her neck looks when it is aligned. Now try to imagine breathing and eating with the neck alignment in the first photo compared to the second. Which position will receive the most oxygen and nutrients?!

How to align your head and neck:

1. Without lifting your chin, slide your head back so that the ears stack over your shoulder.

2. Lengthen from the very base of your skull and top of your neck as if someone tied a string there and was gently pulling upwards.

The benefits of such a simple movement are huge. Try it right now as you are reading this. Try it when when you drive, watch TV, work at your desk, talk on the phone. Uncover your habitual head position and remind yourself as often as you can to realign. Don't wait for a pain in the neck or headache to remind you to align your head!