Many people will experience a stiff neck, or painful back and shoulders at some stage of their life. The most common causes are stress, poor posture and injury. These symptoms will often ease with a gentle massage or a period of rest. But, for others a stiff neck becomes a daily occurance leading to discomfort and inconvenience. It is advisable to get a thorough medical examination if the condition persists it because a stiff neck may be the first sign of a serious illness.
When the stiffness is due to muscular tension the first course of action to take is a course painkillers. Do not use painkillers as a long-term solution as they will mask the problem and not get to the source of the problem. Massage, either self-administered, by a partner or professional, can soothe inflamed muscles. This does bring some much needed relief for the sufferer but if the cause is not addressed quite early further problems may arise.neck exercises. The conventional view is muscle weakness or imbalance is the cause.
Neck exercises may be advised, however this still may not go far enough in addressing the root causes of a stiff neck. In his 12 years experience as teacher of movement and posture, Roy Palmer has recognised that the most useful course of action for a long-term sufferer is re-education. If there is a muscle imbalance or weakness, poor habits are usually the cause of the pain.
Holding the neck in the least painful position can cause bad posture to develop. Sitting at a desk for a long period of time – or the common stress response of holding tension in the neck and shoulders can all lead to neck, back and and shoulder pain. As with all bad habits, once we have them they are very difficult to break.
Exercise taken without proper guidance can do more harm than good. A therapist is often frustrated in his attempt to help the patient when he or she returns home and performs some exercises unsupervised. Exercises performed badly will just re-enforce the bad habit.
Re-education is important in taking the back and neck pain sufferer back to the basics of movement. These movements will initially feel strange because the patient finds them very different from their everydaymvements of turning their head or even just holding their neck. When tension, even in sitting at a desk, becomes a habit then it’s difficult to learn a more beneficial way of sitting. It is essential to relearn how the body can be naturally poised again.
Instead of using exercise, a stiff neck sufferer can learn how to move and balance with less tension and condition their muscles by performing everyday tasks without the need to exercise. Roy has seen this approach work time and time again whilst conventional exercises have failed the individual.