An epidemic so huge, you are probably suffering from it right now.

An epidemic so huge, you are probably suffering from it right now.

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.

Suffering from a stick neck? Are your shoulders always sore? You may be surprised by the cause and relieved by the simple solution.I see it as I watch runners go by. I see it as people push their grocery carts at the store. I even see it as I work next to my husband in our office.

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.

Right now.
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?

Things like:

  • Headaches
  • 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?


Sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter.

Popular Posts | Exclusive Discounts | SPAM Free

Popular Posts | Exclusive Discounts | SPAM Free


As always, the standard disclosures apply.

About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Yes, I’m a believer in chiropractic. But if you don’t address the habitual tension pattern as well you’ll never solve the problem permanently.

  1. Raquel

    I’m pretty sure I have this, working at a computer 5 days a week is horrible. I went to the chiro 13 times last year! He says my vertebrae are completely out of line. Breastfeeding for almost 2 years and using front facing carriers did a number on my neck :( I used to get shooting pains on the right side whenever I reached over to feed my infant daughter. When I first started going for massages it took her 6 months before she could feel my neck bones because my neck was so swollen.

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Oh man, I’m sorry! Yes, start “checking in” and releasing what tension you can. Of course, seeing professionals for extreme cases is important. I love my chiro and a good massage. The two work beautifully together.

  2. Amber

    Thanks for this great reminder to just relax! I also hold my jaw really tight. Anytime I remember to “check in” to see if it’s tight, it’s tight and I have to release it. I need to do more yoga, I guess.

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I can always tell when I”m stressed because I hold tension in my jaw. So important to check in and let go of those tension habits.

  3. Megan

    Yes! I’m a victim too! Sometimes I catch my shoulders almost coming out of my ears! I LOVE the check in and will work on sending the message to my brain – it’s a little slow, but eventually it should get the message. 😉 Thank you.

  4. Catherine

    I definitely have this problem, and it’s affecting my singing. I studied music in college, but for the past year or so my voice has been seriously affected by tension in my shoulders and neck. Hoping I can realign things without going to a doctor!

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Yes, this should help. Are you familiar with Alexander Technique? It was developed by a man who had voice issues and learned how to properly hold his head. So cool.

  5. Thank You!

    Shoulder rolls can help to feel the natural position for your shoulders and release some tension. We all just need to relax a bit!

  6. Eileen

    I started getting this “syndrome” you describe in high school. Taking magnesium, and doing regular neck and shoulder stretches has helped me with this a great deal. Before I started that combination, I used to use acupressure to get relief from my sore, stiff neck. But it usually got *really* sore before I resorted to that! I am thankful my shoulders are usually a little more relaxed now. Thanks for your helpful advice!

  7. Tina

    I am so enjoying your site! I love the intro to this post :0)

    I also suffer from CS. And the tense jaw. I don’t “check in” as often as a I should, but I will work on it.

    Thanks for the tips!

Comments are closed.