A typical posture in our modern culture is a person’s head tilted forward with slumped, rounded shoulders. This strains the upper back, neck, and shoulders, causing pain. The Belt Stretch is an easy, self-help exercise that helps ease this strain and reduce pain.

Sedona Physical Therapy - Self-care for neck and shoulder pain

AUTHOR

Jody Hendryx, P.T.

CATEGORY

Self-Care

POSTED ON

November 6, 2020

SOCIAL

@jodyhendryxpt

Self-Help Pain Relief for Neck & Shoulder Pain

Forward head posture

We’re seeing more and more of this type of posture with the use of tablets and phones for work and recreation. This position of the head actually changes the weight of the head being balanced by the neck and trunk.

Effects of bad posture on neck and head

Head weight and effects that result from forward-head posture

There are many consequences to a forward head posture:

  • Compresses and flattens the cervical spine
  • Compromises blood flow from the head to the neck
  • Weakens our muscles on the front of the neck and the upper back
  • Affects range of motion of the shoulders- an underlying cause of frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis

Neck and shoulder pain is really common and most people don’t realize that the underlying issue causing the pain is what we are doing every day.   The forward head posture causes compression of the neck and compromises the action of the rotator cuff muscles which are important muscles for normal shoulder mobility.  It also shortens our pectoral muscles and compresses our diaphragm which ultimately affects our breathing.

How can we correct this very common forward head posture?

First and foremost, pay attention to your posture.  We spend a lot of time sitting these days.  Our work and entertainment tends to be on electronic devices.  When sitting at a desk, feet, hips, and ankles should be at 90 degrees.  The monitor should be at eye level and our forearms should be supported.  Avoid using your laptop in bed or slouched on the couch.

Correct sitting posture

Correct sitting posture

Belt stretch routine for neck and shoulder pain relief

  Steps for doing the belt stretch:

   Use a belt or a strap. 8 feet long is usually adequate.

  • Stand erect with good posture holding the belt in your hands resting in front of your body.
  • Start to raise your arms up over your head. As you raise your arms up, only go as far as you can go without elevating your shoulders.  In other words, as your arms go up, your shoulder blades will slightly drop down your back.
  • Do Not: Let your arms bend at the elbows as they raise

Do Not: Let the bottom of your rib cage flare out

  • Stop when you are not able to maintain good posture or your shoulders start elevating.
  • When the belt reaches the top of your head, you’ll need to let enough slack out of the belt as you start going back behind your head and back.
  • Again, only go as far as you can go while maintaining good posture.
  • If you have full range of motion, you will be able to go all the way behind your back with the belt and then return to the starting position.

The belt stretch is a great tool for maintaining full range of motion of our shoulders, neck, and upper back.  These areas are prone to compression due to compromised postures which are prevalent in our modern-day culture.  You may benefit from hands-on treatment to open up the front of the chest or neck and back regions if your range of motion is restricted.  Myofascial Release is an excellent tool for opening up these restrictions as it engages the fascia and rehydrates the dehydrated, shortened muscles.  Restoring the fluidity to the muscles goes down to the cellular level, restoring cellular communication.  This is one of the reasons why myofascial release is so effective for therapeutic as well as preventive or wellness treatment.

Sedona Physical Therapy -Shoulder Stretch 1
Sedona Physical Therapy -Shoulder Stretch 2

About Sedona Physical Therapist, Jody Hendryx, P.T.

Sedona Myofascial Release TherapySedona Physical Therapist, Jody Hendryx, holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Colorado and a B.S. in Physical Therapy from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She started Hands On-Austin in 1994 with the intention of providing a specialized Manual Therapy/Myofascial release clinic in the Austin community. Jody has extensive training in manual therapy techniques that address the fascial and connective tissue system with an emphasis on the treatment of male/female pelvic floor.

Jody has been studying under John Barnes since 1988 and has taken all of his courses as well as numerous skill enhancement seminars and Therapy for the Therapist seminars. She successfully completed a proficiency assessment through John Barnes’ Myofascial Release treatment centers. Additional training includes numerous classes through the Upledger Institute for craniosacral therapy, muscle energy, visceral manipulation, and somato emotional release. She has taken advanced pelvic floor classes through the American Physical Therapy Association and the Herman-Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute for male and female incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Dry needling technique is also utilized to facilitate faster reduction of myofascial pain patterns and trigger points. Jody has been teaching various manual therapy classes including Introduction to Myofascial Release and Treatment of Women’s Health Issues within the Austin massage community. She is a full instructor with John Barnes, P.T., and the Myofascial Release Seminars. Her experience working with John Barnes and his staff in Paoli, PA, and Sedona, AZ influenced her in developing Hands On-Austin’s ongoing Intensive treatment program in Sedona, AZ, and Austin, TX. Jody Hendryx, PT with Sedona Physical Therapy partners with Verde Valley Myofascial Release in Cottonwood- also providing expert-level myofascial release treatments.

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