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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dealing with Neck Pain

Neck pain has become a common complaint amongst our civilization ever since we evolved to the point of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, staring at computer screens. Our posture has suffered because of this but very often we don’t take the steps necessary to help our selves. Instead of correcting our bad habits or getting some exercise for the good of our body, we try to stretch out the strained muscles and get someone to aggressively work out the knots. But how much good is this really doing?

One of the osteopathic beliefs is that the body is broken up into primary and secondary spheres. The primary spheres are the more vital areas including the cranium, the thoracic spine, and the pelvis. These areas contain the organs of life, excretion and reproduction. The secondary spheres are the lumbar spine and cervical spine, and while they are essential to the body, the body uses them to balance out the primary spheres. They act as compensators to the body and as a result are the areas that receive the most amount of strain. This is why the neck and the low back are typically the first areas to experience pain, but also why it is so common to have discs degenerate in these areas.

The body is exceptional at survival, and that is why it adapts. It will do its best to insure that it is fully capable to take on any challenges that are thrown at it. If there is a problem in a life giving primary sphere, it will remove some of the strain by placing more on the secondary, even if it means you will have a stiff neck. This stiff neck is unfortunately necessary and stretching out the area may not have a great effect on the tension. It may even cause more pain to the area by going into spasm.

So what can we do to help ourselves? The most important thing to do is get exercise. Encourage movement for the whole body and remove the stresses and strains that build up from our jobs. There is always enough time for physical activity and it is the best way to stay healthy. Improving our posture is important to protect the primary spheres, and yoga is one of the best ways to do so.

Finally, when dealing with a massage therapist for neck pain, be sure to ask them to take a look at both the pelvis and the thoracic spine. Don’t settle for just a shoulder and neck massage when the big problem could be sitting somewhere else. The bigger issues might even surprise you.

Can I exercise after a massage?

After a massage, the body is going to be experiencing many changes. Tissues are accepting to the work that has been done on it, the nervous system may be slightly sedated, the skeletal system may be not fully adapted in its position, and there may even be inflammation in the joints and muscles from the deep tissue work. These adaptations and changes to the body make it a little less desirable to perform strenuous exercise immediately after. The only exception would be a pre-event massage performed by a trained professional.

In general, the best exercise after a massage would be going for an easy walk. This would allow the body to slowly accept the changes being offered to it at its own pace. Some gently stretches can be performed if recommended by your therapist, but events such as weight training, running, or even yoga should be limited at least until the next day.

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