Stiff neck? You’re not alone.
In fact there is a huge epidemic happening right now across the world. Huge, I tell you. Huge in that I see it everywhere… Huge in that it is affecting people who may not even realize it. Huge in that YOU might be suffering from it even as I write this.
What on earth could I be talking about? I tell you.
Creeping Shoulder Syndrome: The cause for stiff neck
What is “Creeping Shoulder Syndrome”? I’m glad you asked, because chances are even YOU (yes, healthy and wonderful YOU) might be suffering from it, too.
Creeping Shoulder Syndrome is the condition where your shoulders slowly, maliciously, and ever-so-sneakily migrate upward where they don’t belong. Sure, I may have made up the name (don’t go searching Web MD for it, okay?), but the reality of this “syndrome” is real.
Tell me, where are your shoulders?
Are they released, easily falling downward, giving plenty of space for your head and neck to be free? Or are they a little tight, stiff even, and hovering an inch or so above their natural resting spot?
Your shoulders are designed to hang
I remember one day during graduate school where I got the most beautiful reminder of our shoulder’s natural design. It was during the few moments before the morning technique class. There, in the back of the studio, was a model skeleton (like this one)… probably left over from a kinesiology class.
I happened to be standing near it with a friend, when one of the senior undergraduate students walked up to the skeleton. She delicately picked up one of the dangling arms and let it fall softly back down. She smiled as she said,
“It just hangs. Isn’t it lovely? I wish I could get my mom to understand this concept.”
And with that this young woman picked up the arm again, let it drop, and admired how the rest of the torso was unaffected by it all.
Are your shoulder’s released?
Or do you hold a lot of tension there? Did you know that excessive tension in the shoulders can lead to some not-so-fun things?
- Muscle spasms
- Poor posture
- A disconnected (and weakened) core
- Spinal issues
Yep. And stiff neck, to boot. That’s because the whole body is connected. And when your shoulders are being “pulled up” by habitual tension it can make the rest of the body feel pretty lousy.
No More Stiff Neck: How to keep your shoulders relaxed
Luckily, Creeping Shoulder Syndrome doesn’t require drugs, surgery, or even expensive training. The most important thing you can do to help your shoulders (and subsequently your head, neck, back, and body) is to RELEASE.
Just let go.
Sure, it sounds easy. But if you have a habit of “holding yourself up” it will take time, practice, and lots of mindfulness. Here are some tips to help you out:
1. Set a timer to “check in” every hour.
This shouldn’t take more than a few moments of your time. When the timer goes off, just take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. If you feel really tense, lift your shoulders up as high as they will go and then let them drop. Repeat this three times. This exaggerated movement will help your brain “get the message” about what you want it to do.
2. Make sure your environment supports you.
If your desk is too tall or your chair too short you could be unknowingly perpetuating Creeping Shoulder Syndrome. You want to have your keyboard/desk at a level where you arms can be totally released downward as you work. Add some books to your seat if you need to adjust.
3. Do NOT push downward.
Growing up I often had dance teachers tell me my shoulders were “too high.” So what did I do? I pushed them down. Sure, I didn’t have Creeping Shoulder Syndrome, but I did get Tight Back Pain Syndrome instead. Tension is still tension.
Remember, your shoulders/arms are designed to HANG. You don’t have to push them down. That’s what gravity is for.
Let gravity do its thing.
The Benefits of Letting it Hang
You’ll feel more ease in your body. It will reinforce better posture. You will be able to let go of all that unnecessary tension and pain. You’ll feel better.
Who doesn’t want that!? So, friends… do me a favor and just let your arms hang low. Let your shoulder release. Relax your neck. And be happy.
Tell me… Do you suffer from Creeping Shoulder Syndrome? Do you often have a stiff neck? Ready to let it go?