At some point in your life you've had neck pain, and chances are good that you've even had it this week. You know the kind...you wake up in the morning and suddenly *snap!* you can't move your head all the way in one direction or the other.
The likely culprit? A muscle spasm. While this technique may not 'cure' your pain immediately, it should relieve some of the tension so you get some of your range of motion back. All you need is a tennis ball. If you have 2, even better - stick them in a long sock and tie off the end. The space will between them will provide just enough room for your spine.
A quick anatomy note. The best way to stretch a muscle is to make sure you are stretching BOTH ENDS of the muscle, meaning the origin (beginning) and insertion (end). If you only stretch one end, it's essentially like pulling a rubber band that is not attached to anything. It's not really pulling!
Step 1: Lie on your back and place the tennis ball (or two) on your neck. Roll along the muscles on either side of the spine (not on the spine!!) shown in the anatomy photo above, going along with the fibers and direction of the muscle. You want to roll from the bottom of the skull, down to the tops of your shoulders. Think of rolling out dough. If you come across a hot spot, hang out on it for 5-10 breaths and *try* to relax over it.
Step 2: Sitting up tall, take your right hand over your left ear, extend your left arm, and gently pull your neck toward the right shoulder and rotate your nose toward the floor. Actively walk your left fingertips further away from your hips to increase the stretch. Hold 5-10 breaths, then switch to the other side.
Step 3: Still sitting up tall, interlace your hands behind your head with your shoulders dropped down your back. Inhale and then slowly drop your chin toward your chest while keeping your spine long, letting your elbows come forward. You should feel the stretch all along your neck and upper shoulders. Breathe here for 5-10 breaths.
Let me know how it works for you in the comments section below!
Have questions you want answered? Ask them here.
I'll answer them in an upcoming blog post.