The Cause and Relief for Neck Pain and Headaches
Headaches are a common complaint for millions of people, so it is important to explore the muscles that cause neck pain by impacting your cervical vertebrae, your spinal cord, and how your skull rests on the supporting vertebrae.
A muscle called Levator Scapulae is the culprit for a great deal of neck pain and headaches. This is especially true for cyclists, house painters, and anyone who spends hours with his/her shoulders lifted and head tilted all the way back.
The graphic on the left shows the origination (bracket) of the muscle, and the insertion point is on the top/medial border of the shoulder blade. When the muscle contracts this brings the shoulder up, in fact the nickname for the levator scapulae is “the shrug muscle.”
Take a close look at the graphic, imagine what it looks like when the muscle is contracted so your neck and shoulder are closer together. The problem begins due to a phenomenon called “muscle memory,” where the shortened muscle converts to the shorter length and when you then try to stand up straight with your shoulders at their normal, “un-raised” position, the shortened muscle won’t lengthen. The muscle is so short that it pulls your cervical vertebrae to the side and down.
When you look at the graphic, you can see a close-up of the top three cervical vertebrae. Your spinal cord goes through the center opening of each vertebra, and between each vertebra there is a disk. As the levator scapulae pulls the bones to the side and down, it causes pressure on your spinal cord, and also compresses the disks between each bone.
Just as pulling your hair causes pain on your scalp, the pressure of the tight muscle pulling on the vertebrae will cause pain in your neck. As the vertebrae are pulled and pressure is placed on your spinal cord at the very top of your neck, you get a headache from the impinged nerves.
Neck Pain and Headaches: A Treatment that Works!
Begin by placing the Trigger Point Treatment Ball onto the top of your shoulder as shown in the picture on the left.
This is the center of your levator scapulae.
Lean forward into the corner of a wall, pressing your weight into the ball. Relax your arms and head.
You can move slightly so the ball rolls toward your neck, and then toward your shoulder. These are subtle moves, with a focus on lengthening the muscle and forcing toxins out of the muscle fibers.
Work on both shoulders, although you’ll find the most tenderness on the same side as your neck pain and headache.
Focused Flexibility Training demonstrates how to treat all of the muscles of your neck and shoulder, as well as the rest of your body, and then how to safely stretch.
Self-treatment works! And the best part is you can help yourself quickly when you feel the first twinge of an ache or pain.
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