SMARTer bodies

Tag Archives: chronic work injuries

Why Won’t My Neck Relax!

Why Won’t My Neck Relax!

You may feel that sometimes, no matter how much you try to stretch your neck there is no relief.  One of the ways in which this may manifest is if you lay down on the floor without a pillow and it feels like you have work to release.  Maybe your chin juts towards the ceiling.  Maybe your neck feels “crunchy” in the back.  So what do you need to do? Instinctually, you may react to the tightness with attempts to stretch the necks muscles more.

But this situation presents an important lesson that we will touch upon again and again in this blog and in our work:

There is a difference between Stretch and Release.  Stretch does NOT always equal Release!

What if the neck muscles that feel tight are actually overstretched and you are not perceiving the sensation correctly?  To further illuminate, take an internal body scan and see if you can sense if you have very tight pectoral muscles.  This may be a result of sitting at a computer for many hours, reading at a desk, or just holding bad posture.  The chronically contracted muscles on the front of your body are constantly pulling and forcing the back muscles to stretch to their maximum capacity.  The tight sensations in the back are muscles screaming for release not more stretch.

Try working on the pecs with body work, massage, or gently stretching them…whatever works best for you to open those muscles.  Now try actually using the muscles in the back body by contracting the postural muscles.  Lie down and squeeze the scapula together by contracting the muscles in between.  See how far down you can take that squeeze.  This may be difficult, because you are lying down.  But, try alternating squeezing the muscles and releasing the contraction.  Doing this, after opening the pecs, can begin to rebalance your posture and equalize the work of the front and back muscles.  In other words, you will open your tight pecs and give release/relief to the overly stretched back muscles.  Once you’ve alternated the squeeze and release of the postural muscles 3 – 5 times lie down on the floor and see if you feel a difference in your previously “tight” neck.  Is it easier to release your head to the ground with out a pillow?  Do you have an easier time tucking your chin back and keeping it there?

Try this and give us your feedback!

Achy Painful Hands and Wrists? Watch Out for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!

If you recently have experienced discomfort in your hands, like pain in the fingers, knuckles, wrists, palms or forearms then keep reading!  That discomfort may be a sign of an underlying problem.  So many jobs involve repetitive motions with our hands, which can over time be a source of major discomfort and even injuries. Suffering from pain in the hands and wrists is becoming increasingly widespread, so you are not alone. Industrial occupations like factory work and office based jobs that require typing on the computer for long hours are the two most common professional activities that can lead to aching wrists and hands. This condition, if it last for more than a few weeks, is often referred to as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)!  But this pain does not always have its source in that particular area of the wrist.  So it is safer to refer to this issue as a repetitive strain injury.

Our hands are an amazing part of our body, and they make the uniqueness of the human experience possible. From supporting yourself in different yoga positions, to grabbing a cup of coffee, and writing a note, our hands do miraculous things everyday. The hands are made up of many different bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that allow us to do a variety of stunningly complex movements. So what is the best thing to do if you are suffering from discomfort in your hands and wrists? Doing different hand exercises and stretches can help a great deal, as well as taking frequent breaks during repetitive motion to stretch your fingers, wrists, and palms. Drinking lots of water is also helpful, because water is essential in ensuring that all of your joints and fascia (connective tissue) are well lubricated for easier motion!   Yoga is also very beneficial, because it strengthens the hands and wrists, as well as the forearms and also increases blood circulation to those areas.  Our heavily industrialized world makes for some interesting challenges. But there are natural solutions, like yoga, fascial release, trigger point therapy and other therapeutic movements that can help!

Tips for Office Workers

Last weekend Kim and I taught a great workshop at Reebok. Geared towards tired office workers and computer users, the information was very much appreciated and we look forward to doing it again! We realize that more people need this information, so we’ve decided to post the tip sheet we handed out. Definitely email us if you have questions, or leave a comment. Also, if you love what you’re reading think of how much better it would be if Kim and I came to your office and gave the workshop there! Contact us also if you’d like to book us for corporate classes and workshops. Read More