When the fun and vacations of summer end, students are back to school and workers are back to the full grind of jobs. This adds more stress to our lives and less breaks from repetitive actions that can create aches and pains. One of the most common of these is neck pain. I have talked previously about headaches and migraines. Both of these can be exaggerated or even begin with neck muscle tension. As we continue the same actions over and over every day, we suffer micro tears to our muscles. As these micro tears heal themselves, muscle fibers fill in various directions. This creates scar tissue and knots in our muscles. This scar tissue can create limited range of motion. Some of the main repetitive motions involve sitting at a computer, reading, and talking on the phone. Along with this, over time these actions cause the anterior neck muscles to fight against gravity and become super tight while our posterior neck muscles are overstretched. This causes a forward head posture. For every degree forward, there is 10 pounds of pressure added to the neck. As you can imagine this causes lots of pain and discomfort.
So the question is how can we lessen this pain and discomfort? Regular exercise and stretching are a great start, but sometimes its just not enough. That's where massage comes in. Sometimes the tension has been building for so long that simple fixes aren't enough and the muscles need to be manually relaxed. Massage combines various methods such as passive stretching, cross fiber friction, and trigger point therapy to restore muscles to their normal state. Passive stretching can help the neck muscles to fully relax so that you can receive the full benefit of the stretch; cross fiber friction can realign the muscle fibers to reduce the adhesions and increase range of motion; and trigger point therapy can reduce referred pain patterns. An NCCIH funded study followed two groups. One received just a self help book and the other received regular massages. "After 10 weeks, the massage group was more likely than the self-care-book group to have clinically significant improvement in function and symptoms." A neck protocol also includes the surrounding areas suck as the head, face, and arms which can also have added benefits.
So if you are experiencing neck pain and can't find relief try to make some time for a more regular massage schedule. Not only can massage help neck pain, it can also reduce stress and add a little more bliss to your life.