Saturday, 2 November 2013

Help yourself to a straighter, less painful upper back

So many people who come to see me for massage have tension, restricted movement and pain in their shoulders and neck. It’s a blight of the modern lifestyle, with hours spent sitting hunched over computers, or behind the wheel of a car. A massage can work out the knots and tightness, so you feel looser, straighter and much more comfortable for weeks, or even months. Without a change in habits, however, stiffness and pain creep back in.

Lucinda Cracknell Massage - shoulder massage
Massage can help you feel looser,
straighter and more comfortable
Giving up the computer work, or long drives, may not be practical, but there are other steps you can take to lessen the impact of day to day life on your body and prolong the benefits of your massage (and reduce the discomfort when you come for your next treatment).

Try this exercise: Focus on the bottom corner of your shoulder blades (feel where they are with your hands if you need to). Have the intention of pulling those corners down and in towards your spine.

This is a very gentle, passive way of encouraging your upper back, shoulders and neck into a good, neutral position. Thinking about pulling your shoulders down, or back, can cause you to tense in your neck and shoulders, which defeats the purpose a bit.

It also helps bring your head up above your neck, rather than hanging forward. (If it still feels pushed forward, bring it fully up by looking horizontally and bringing your chin in; imagine a string from your crown floating your head upwards). Your head is pretty heavy, so if it’s pushed forward your neck and shoulder muscles are doing a lot of work to counteract that weight. That can cause, or add to, tension in those areas. Once your head is balanced on your neck, the weight is supported through your spine and the pressure is off your muscles. Much better!

Practise this alignment of your back and shoulders whenever you think of it, especially during activities that can put strain on the back like using a computer or driving. Every time you do it you take the strain off your muscles for a few moments and give them an opportunity to relax. With time and repetition, this neutral position becomes more natural and normal, until you realise you’re doing it without thinking. Congratulations, you’ve learned to look after your back and may have saved yourself future pain and discomfort. As an added incentive, by holding yourself straight you may look taller too.

Be kind to yourself. Treat body and mind through compassionate, healing touch - visit Lucinda's website

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