In the world of massage therapy, neck pain is said to be caused by unhealthy postural habits that lead to muscular strain and also tension headaches. Looking down too much or having a forward head posture are among the culprits of neck pain.
Neck Pain Evaluation
Treatment and education about preventing forward head posture go a long way in helping to avoid neck pain. An example of the type of knowledge you’ll gain from Joe Danna of Atlantic Massage & Muscular Therapies LLC, regarding not only neck pain, but also pain caused by muscular imbalances in other areas of the body, would be an explanation of the dynamic of the neuromuscular feedback loop system at work in the human body and how it functions to protect you.
Fiber Receptors and Tight Muscles
There are receptors throughout this system that are busy reporting everything each microscopic muscle fiber is doing. Muscle fiber length and rates of acceleration and/or deceleration of body movement and position are constantly being monitored.
In the case of a muscle being elongated too quickly, the feedback loop monitoring system reacts to this information by tightening the muscle to protect the body from injury that may be caused from such a sudden movement. Anyone engaged in an active stretching routine will notice this tightening response when stretching too quickly.
Postural Evaluations are Key to Treatment
When a client arrives to a clinic, the first thing a massage therapist should do is the all-important postural evaluation. Such a physical assessment highlights the musculo-skeletal imbalances and compensations of the body, which in turn maps out the direction the massage session will take to attain the best results. When a client with neck and/or upper back pain shows up at Atlantic Massage & Muscular Therapies, LLC, proprietor, Joe Danna, who is a seasoned Certified Neuromuscular Massage Therapist with experience dating back to 1991, knows what to look for.
Introduction to “Tech Neck”
He explains that as a result of people living and working in our ‘flexion addicted’ culture, they have a tendency to develop what has been called ‘Tech Neck’: a condition where the head has become protracted (forward) as a result of acquiring unhealthy postural habits incurred from society’s use of the latest technologies, such as cell phones and computer monitors. One head/neck muscle affected by a forward head posture is the Levator Scapulae. The origin of this muscle is C-1 through C4, and its insertion is at the superior angle of the scapulae (upper inside corner of the shoulder blades). With a forward head, the Levator Scapulae and Upper Trapezius muscles become over-stretched and locked in a contraction simultaneously, as the muscles contract in a vain attempt to pull the head back to its correct posture.
Levator Scapulae Syndrome and Other Neck Treatments
A chronic condition known as ‘Levator Scapulae Syndrome’ may commence with painful achiness and burning in the affected musculature. A remedy for this condition is specific stretching protocols coupled with targeted strengthening exercises to help restore the head to its proper alignment. Soft tissue techniques may alleviate the pain temporarily, but until the root of the problem, which is the forward head posture, is corrected through at home self-care exercises under the direction of a qualified massage therapist, the pain is likely to return.