Wow! Here we are in December already, looking forward to what we all know is a busy holiday season of family visits, meal planning, coordination and gift giving. While it’s fun and cheery and often fulfilling, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the holiday season can also mean a LOT of stress, which ultimately shows up in your posture, your muscles, and your physical comfort. Stress can cause our muscles in our neck to contract. When these muscles contract, it can cause neck pain and dull headaches which can turn into migraines.
What can you do?
The root cause of your neck pain and headaches may be a number of things. To help reduce stress and relieve your neck pain this holiday season you can:
- Practice neck stretches to help relax the muscles – watch the video below as Dr. Jereme demonstrates a great neck stretch
- Adjust your workstation to be more ergonomic
- Use essential oils to help relax the muscles
- Use hot compress to ease pain
- Exercise daily to help relieve stress
- Visit a neck specialist physician therapist to assist
Not sure how to stretch that neck
Worry not! Dr. Jereme has come up with a wonderful stretch (if you’re one of our “regulars”, chances are you may already know and love this one!) to help open up those tight shoulders and neck muscles and reduces headaches, neck pain, and that feeling of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
If this opening stretch is new to you, it can be helpful to know exactly what tools to gather for your self care. For this exercise, all that is required is a pressure point roller and a sturdy woven belt.. If you don’t already have these or similar tools in your at-home toolbox, now is your chance. They are excellent, and come in handy for a whole host of deep tissue and myofascial release exercises you can do at home to keep yourself healthy in between sessions.
To practice this stretch, simply loop the woven belt around the pressure point roller, place the roller over the tightest part of your shoulders/neck and hold it in place with one hand. With the other hand, reach back around behind you to grab the belt that is now dangling from the back of the roller. Pull (gently at first!) on the belt until you feel a good stretch and move the roller around a bit until you hit a point of “Ouch! That hurts so good!”. Once you’re at that spot, just stay there! Hang out in that spot for anywhere from 30 seconds (for a small but noticeable release) to 5 minutes (for those with more long-standing, chronic challenges).
As you may have noticed, a lot of our exercises really emphasize finding a tender spot and just hanging out there to allow the fascia time to unwind and release the tension it’s been holding. It can be super common to experience some sensations like rippling, warmth, or increased blood flow in that area. All of these are good signs, showing that the exercise is working and you’re releasing a lot of stored up tension!
It’s important to note that tension headaches, neck pain, and other symptoms of stress can be helped by simple stretches like this, but to really get to the root of the issue and heal from there, you need the trained eye of a professional physical therapist who can guide you in specific exercises and protocols to support your healing specifically. No cookie cutter plans here!
If you or someone you know is suffering from neck pain or tension headaches, be sure to take advantage of our special Neck Pain Awareness Month offer. You can schedule a free 20 minute discovery visit with one of our PTs any time this month to really get the customized support and care you need to feel better.
Don’t forget we are celebrating our 7th Anniversary this month and we have deep discounts on session bundles. We have a limited quantity available, and this is an amazing opportunity to prioritize your health, and as we head into the busy holiday season, know that you are worth it, your health is worth it, and your body will thank you.
Just hit “reply” to this email to let us know you’re ready to prioritize your health and live a happier, less stressed, more comfortable life in the festive season and beyond..