Roughly half of the clients I see all have the same complaint - neck and shoulder pain. We develop neck pain for a myriad of different reasons such as stress, poor posture, poor work place ergonomics, poor pillow support or even because of reasons that aren't so cut and dry. Sometimes, our neck can bother us because of a problem in our knees, or tight hamstrings.
Here they are, Six Tricks YOU can do right now, to give yourself a break from the pain in your neck, without popping any medication.
1. Grab each toe gently by the ball and stretch and rotate each of all ten toes. You might feel some crunching, some tenderness, but you'll definitely feel some relief. (That crunching is toxins releasing, although it may not feel great, it is great for you)
2. With the palm of your hand bend all ten toes backwards towards you, stretching your toes and the balls of your feet. Start at ten seconds each foot, and work your way up from there.
3. Stretch your toes out and away from each other without touching them. (This one is great for when it's not appropriate to rub or stretch your neck - no one can see what you're doing!)
4. Pull your toes apart from each other. Separate them from side to side until you can make a 90 degree angle between all of your toes. This one hurts, especially in those with bad shoulders. Keep at it.
5. Stretch your hamstrings and the insides of your knees. The tendons that run from our toes to our necks go through our inner knee and hamstrings. Keeping these tendons stretched and supple helps straighten our toes out and relieve neck tension. Familiar with yoga? Try the Uttanasana, Paschimottana, Upavistha, Prasarita Padottanasana and Upavistha Konasana poses. Not familiar with yoga? Do something to change that - it's the cheapest, easiest way to solve neck and shoulder issues, regardless of the cause.
6. Right now - take a deep breath in. Notice where your breath goes. Does your chest rise, or does your stomach push out? Chances are, it's your chest and shoulders that move up and down. In today's vanity based society, we keep our stomachs pulled in tight all the time to maintain the appearance of a trim midsection. The problem with this is it keeps our necks and shoulders tense.
Put your hand over your belly button, now when you breathe in try to push your hand out without moving your shoulders. Feel that? It's next to impossible to hold on to neck and shoulder tension while belly breathing - which is also called "Authentic Breathing" because it's how we are meant to be taking in our air. Inhale deep into your stomach, take in as much air as you can, and exhale, fully letting go. While ideally, this is how you should breathe all the time, start off slowly when you notice your tension building. On top of releasing shoulder tension, "Authentic Breathing" also relieves anxiety, is a natural way to detox, is energizing, helps clear your mind and helps bring you into the moment, keeping you present.
Set aside a little time at night and make it a ritual. No candles or quiet time necessary, you can do this all while watching TV, reading a book or chatting on the phone - It's THAT easy.
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