I’m sorry this post has taken so long. When I asked for ideas to Help me Fix My Neck and Shoulders, I got way more feedback than I ever expected. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I actually got more ideas than I could ever implement. The more I started exploring these ideas and their criticisms, the more confused I got. Below is a list of the ideas I received from the comments broken down into groups.
Before I list out the ideas, I think I may have asked the wrong question. It isn’t just about fixing the problem, but identifying what causes it and what could have prevented it. I still don’t know why my neck and shoulders are tight. I can assume it is because I work at a desk, but others that work at a desk don’t experience the same level of tightness. The correct way to solve this problem is to isolate the cause first, which is something I haven’t figured out. To date, I have just dived headfirst into finding the cure and it has gotten me nowhere.
- Mobility Exercises (such as the 3 Minutes routine)
- Perform ball massage. (Mobility WOD)
Although I feel good when I do mobility work, it hasn’t done anything to relieve tightness. I experimented with some exercises on the Mobility WOD website and although I could feel what he was talking about, they did nothing for the tightness. By the way, does anyone else get dizzy watching his videos? He needs a tripod badly.
- Mind Body
Could the back pain I cured via Dr. Sarno have moved north to my neck and shoulders? Did I trade pain for stiffness? Is this mind-body? Beats me. My hunch is that it isn’t, but I’m not sure.
- Use no pillow.
- Sleep on the floor.
- Type of chair, chair settings
- Yoga needles on a rubber pad
I have not tried #1 or #2 yet. As for #3, I do need to reupholster my computer chair, but I have no clue how to do it. Maybe I’ll just buy a new chair. Seems wasteful though. I liked the Theracane but found it too addicting and it didn’t have any long-term benefits. I also went to a store and tried all the different Yoga needle mats and pillows. Couldn’t feel anything, so I didn’t buy one.
Photo by Lori Greig
- Foods that are inflammatory.
I have yet to find a food that triggers inflammation. Doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist, just means I haven’t found it. I could start by doing a nightshade elimination diet, which many people with pain have found helpful.
The book Trigger Point Therapy for Headaches and Migraines: Your Self -Treatment Workbook for Pain Relief by Valerie DeLaune said this about caffeine:
Caffeine causes a persistent contracture of muscle fibers (sometimes referred to as “caffeine rigor”) and increases muscle tension and trigger point irritability…
Other than that book and some PubMed references to frogs, I couldn’t additional information about “caffeine rigor”. Is it real? I will be doing a longer caffeine detox later this year, so in a way, I will be testing this idea out. However, I have no clue how long one needs to be off caffeine to rid themselves of “caffeine rigor”, assuming it even exists.
- Nautilus based neck strengthening exercises
- Home neck exercises?
This was actually the most interesting idea in the comment thread. Instead of avoiding load-bearing exercises, one would use them to make the region stronger. So far the only neck exercises I’ve been aware of are more static stretches, which I do regularly, but haven’t helped. I’m going to start some light isometric neck exercises.
- Trigger Point Therapy
- CranioSacral Therapy
- Active Release Therapy
- Nautilus Strength
- Feldenkrais Method
- Alexander Technique
As I’ve stated many times on this blog, my track record with health professionals has been abysmal. They bleed my money and I feel better in the short run, but they never fix anything. I’ve been addicted to the endorphin release of both massage and chiropractic services. It is expensive and frustrating. This is why I want to take a DIY approach to solve this riddle. If I have to go to a health professional, it is because they are teaching me something that I can’t learn on my own. With that said, I will be taking a class on the Feldenkrais Method, because I found the library books on the topic to be bewildering.
Since my Help Me post, I have continued doing neck mobility and the 3 Minutes routine. I have also experimented with the ball massage, foam rollers, and spent a few weeks attempting to do Trigger Point Therapy. None of has helped. In fact, I think the Trigger Point work made things worse, which I covered in the post Kefir, Caffeine, and Trigger Point Therapy. I have also resumed doing shoulder presses at the gym. I falsely associated that movement with tight shoulders. It appears to be innocent.
My plan now is to learn about Feldenkrais, continue the 3 Minutes routine, do some isometric neck exercises, and fix my chair. Then I’ll attempt to take a nap on the floor at first – with and without a pillow. That should be a good start. I’ll also prepare a nightshade elimination test along with exploring a low inflammation diet, although I don’t think that is the cause. The “caffeine rigor” thing is puzzling to me as are the roots of the tightness.