As a chiropractor I see lots of, you guessed it, neck and shoulder problems. And while many of these problems result from acute injuries or repetitive stress injuries from a clear cause such as lifting heavy objects frequently many problems seem to come back again and again with no clear cause.
It is when there is no clear cause that muscle imbalance or weakness must be considered and addressed. Often without realizing it we use certain postures over and over again that place repetitive stresses on certain spinal muscles resulting in them being stronger than other areas of the spine. When this happens the spine becomes unbalanced from the strong muscle groups being relied upon more than the weaker areas.
It is this imbalance that leads to much of the chronic neck and shoulder issues I see that are not quickly resolved with chiropractic care. The purpose of this article is to teach you my 3 favorite exercises to quickly re-balance the spine and strengthen weaker areas of the spine.
The Jefferson Curl- this exercise is performed by locking out the knees and slowly leaning over like your were going to do a basic hamstring stretch. The difference is that you start by tucking the chin, then curling the upper and middle back and finally unloading the lumbar spine (lower back) before holding the stretch. Many good instructional videos of this stretch can be found on YouTube. This exercise not only helps you identify the areas of the spine that are weak but strengthens them quickly. I like to have people do 5-10 reps a day depending on how compromised the spine is.
Head Roll- this classic physical therapy exercise is done by starting with the head in its natural position. You then tip it to the right, roll the head to the center and then continuing to roll the head across the body until it is in the same position on the left shoulder before completing the exercise by returning to neutral. The key is to have total control as you perform the exercise and not to just roll the head back and forth. 3-5 minutes of this exercise a day usually suffice to strengthen the neck and upper back muscles over the course of several weeks.
Pectoralis Stretch- this exercise is done by placing the hand on either a pole, door frame or other sturdy frame with the arm extended. Then rotate away creating a stretch in the chest muscles and sometime the upper bicep area if you are really tight. Hold the stretch for 45 seconds and switch arms. Do 4-5 reps a day for several weeks.
These 3 exercises work together to strengthen back muscles, release strain on tight muscles that typically cause headaches, neck and upper back pain and help identify areas that need chiropractic care. Any area that is especially weak feeling, does not get better after 1-2 weeks of doing these exercises or has a history of previous injury likely would benefit from chiropractic in addition to these exercises.
To schedule an appointment for chiropractic care my office can be reached at 715-265-7500 for Glenwood City or 715-246-7500 for the 4 Corners. We can also be reached via Facebook at the Arvold Chiropractic page.
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