We expect pain and soreness in just about every muscle from the waist down when it comes to jogging, but why would we experience pain in the shoulders?
Many of us have some sort of postural imbalance where the shoulders aren’t lined up well. For just about everyone, there is muscle tension and stress that we keep in our neck and shoulders. This means that there might be decreased flexibility, mobility, health and strength leading to early muscle fatigue, pain and cramping. Treating the stress in the neck and shoulders with massage or acupuncture can free them up so that they perform better when jogging.
Another approach is to look at how we jog. Many jog in a way that increases shoulder tension. A quick check is to observe your hands. Are they loose or clenched into a fist? They should be loose. If they are clenched in a fist, then you are likely activating and clenching every muscle from your fingertips, arms and shoulders up to your neck when jogging. This constant tension leads to premature muscle fatigue and pain. A simple remedy is to be mindful of keeping your hands, arms and shoulders loose as you jog. It can be hard to be constantly thinking of your arms while jogging, so try this simple technique: touch your thumb to your middle finger lightly and keep it there the whole time that you are jogging. In this position it is really difficult to have any real tension in your arms and shoulders. The shoulders will stay loose and the pain will go away.
While I am not a runner, but chose to get my cardio doing other activity, for you all of you who are runners out there: have fun, stay healthy and loose.
Neck pain is a very common 21st century disease. It seems that just about everyone suffers from neck soreness at one time or another. It can be an occasional mild annoyance that can be easily ignored most of the time. But what can we do when neck pain becomes insufferable? First of all, consider why your neck might be sore in the first place.
With the advent of the digital age, people are spending way too much time crouched several hours in front of a computer, or craning their necks down to look at their smart phone. Look around you sometime when you go out, and you will find at least a handful of people looking at the smart phone in your immediate vicinity. Go figure. This can seriously exacerbate, strain and wear out neck muscles. Posture is especially important for maintaining a healthy neck when we consider that the average human head weighs about as much as a bowling ball. With proper posture, the head is balanced perfectly and the neck muscles can have a break. However, if we are slouching forward and sticking our chins out, there is a constant strain on the neck muscles to keep the head up, leaving the neck muscles aching. Consider these tips for proper computer posture:
2. Lack of Movement
With all the time spent staring at a computer or a tv screen, the neck simply doesn’t get enough movement. The human body is made for movement. Movement helps to produce synovial fluid which lubricates and cushions our joints. A lack of movement causes this lubrication to stop or dry up leaving our necks as mechanically sound as a car without engine oil. Yikes!!! Try these gentle neck stretches:
3. Lack of Strength
Sitting in front of a computer all day can be even harder to do if we are out of shape. Yes, you need to be fit to remain sitting comfortably. Keeping our neck muscles constantly contracted in one position for 8 hours is very difficult for our bodies to do. Strengthening these muscles and increasing their stamina will improve their ability to face that challenge. Many neck muscles start in the shoulders and can be strengthened by doing shoulder exercises. Consider adding the following strengthening exercises: military shoulder press, shoulder shrugs, rowing motions and alternate dumbbell shoulder press to your exercise routine. Also tai chi, swimming, elliptical machines and yoga can be beneficial too.
4. Lack of Maintenance
A good way to maintain the health of your neck is to utilize proper office ergonomics, daily neck stretches and regular shoulder exercises. A good addition to any neck maintenance is a regular massage and/or acupuncture treatment. An effective therapeutic massage and acupuncture treatment can help flush out the toxins that are building up in the muscles, break down adhesion or scar tissue that is starting to develop, normalize the nerve pathways to your muscles and take care of potential issues before they become a problem. If you awake a neck so sore that you cannot move it, a good therapeutic massage and/or acupuncture treatment can restore most neck functioning almost immediately.
The lower trapezius muscle helps to pull the shoulder blades back and down. It directly counteracts the pulling of the pectoralis minor muscle, which tries to pull the shoulder blades forward into a slouch. Unfortunately, we are usually stronger in our pectoralis minor chest muscle than we are in our lower trapezius back muscle, resulting in shoulders that are pulled forward. This forward shoulder posture gives us chronic neck and shoulder pain by putting the shoulder muscles in a state of constant tension as they are always being pulled and stretched.
Strengthening the lower trapezius muscle can bring balance to the shoulders and leave them in a more neutral, ergonomically efficient position. Here are some exercises that can help:
The second video does not have any narration, so focus on the movement. This exercise is perfect if you have a gym membership. If not, a Theraband can be all you need.
- Do the exercise slowly
- The thumb should be pointed towards the ceiling at the beginning and behind you at the end position.
- Start with the shoulder shrugged forward, then pull the shoulder blade back.
- Be careful to not over extend the shoulder to the point of feeling any pinching or sharp pain.
- Use only a small amount of weight/resistance. Form is the key component here. If you feel you are cheating to do the reps, remove some weight.
An interesting article regarding neck and shoulder pain:
I didn’t appreciate having a 3 inch growth spurt when I started high school. I remember my Mom always reminding me to stand up straight and watch my posture. It took me several years to truly appreciate my height. I now thank my Mom for helping me to be mindful of my posture.
Here is a link to an excellent article on posture. http://artofmanliness.com/2009/06/21/30-days-to-a-better-man-day-22-improve-your-posture/ The author explains the following:
Makes You Look Taller. Good posture adds an immediate inch or two to your height. Try it, you will be surprised.
Makes You Look More Confident. Good posture gives you an air of strength and confidence. Think about it… shoulders back, chest out, chin in….
Improves Organ Function. Slouching forces your rib cage to compress your organs decreasing their efficiency.
Reduces Tension and Pain in Your Neck, Shoulders, and Back. Most of the discomfort you feel from sitting at work comes from sitting improperly.
Increases Concentration and Mental Performance.
Prevents Beer Belly. Incorrect posture accentuates any belly fat you have while proper posture can hide it.
Here is a very interesting article on the causes of muscle cramps:
The article explains muscle cramps being caused by imbalance between nervous impulses, a sudden loss of electrolytes, and a poor training schedule.
I’ve noticed a growing trend in the needs of my clientele. Lately, several people have come in unable to turn their heads without rotating their entire upper body because of inflexibility and pain in the neck area. This “crick in the neck” phenomenon makes it difficult for the afflicted to check for oncoming traffic at stop signs. “It’s unsafe, really,” said one such client.
I have a few theories for what may be causing these problems. Certified in medical massage, I believe the looming tax deadline for some and grass pollen counts may be at least partly to blame. Those who’ve spent a lot of time leaning over their desks to scrutinize receipts and tax documents may be at risk for neck strain. And others who have trouble with seasonal allergies may also be putting extra strain on their upper bodies through the simple act of breathing.
It’s usually a problem that’s been building for a while. When major muscles get fatigued, they recruit smaller ones to pick up the slack. Eventually those smaller muscles tire also, and that’s when people say ‘I woke up this morning with a sore neck.’” If the problem continues, referring arm pain or numbness can also result.
Though some clients may notice some relief after one massage when they have these symptoms, it may take between three and five sessions to relax the affected muscles.
If you can’t find the time to schedule a massage session, here is a video below that shows some really simple stretches for the neck that should help your condition. For those of you suffering from neck pain, these stretches are a good preliminary point as they are gentle and non-aggressive. The stretches can be performed in the seated or standing position and are a great way to break up the tension that is building up during your work day.
Guidelines for performing the stretches:
- Check with your doctor before you attempt these exercises to ensure that it is safe for you.
- Do the exercises slowly
- Try to breathe throughout these exercises slowly and keep your body relaxed. Do not tense up or hold your breath as this will provoke muscle spasm.
- You should feel a slight gentle stretching sensation, but you should not feel any pain during the exercises. If you do feel pain, decrease the range of movement by stopping before you get to the point of pain. Continue the exercise within the pain free range.
- The vertebrae and muscles in the neck are extremely fragile and can be aggravated very easily. Don’t try to overdo it. You will get better results by stretching gently, but more frequently. On the other hand, overdoing it can leave you with a really nasty neck cramp.
- If you cannot find a easy pain free way to do these exercises, discontinue immediately and seek the advice of a health care professional.
- Do the exercises a minimum of 3 times a day for best results.
Believe, it or not, the following are possible pain triggers: Flip flops, smart phones, your wallet, driving, active video games, cheese (bummer, because I love cheese), couch potato syndrome, your baby, etc…