Shoulder Hiking to the Neck

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It is not uncommon to see neck pain and shoulder stiffness in an athlete...or any person for that matter. Sometimes it can go undetected and seem "mysterious". No matter how much you "release" the tissue (if that is even possible), the tightness and stiffness returns. When you "release" tissue and then it becomes tight again the next day, I am 99.99999% sure that you didn't release anything, unless that "releasing" and "adhering" process is so transient that it can regress in a 12-24 hour period. If you're thinking about chemical bonds on a microscopic scale versus scar tissue on a macroscopic scale, you have an argument. Ok lots of coffee on board this morning, I digress.

So when someone has this neck pain and shoulder stiffness that wasn't caused by a recognizable injury, it's important to look at how they are using that area of the body. A very common pattern of neck/shoulder dysfunction is hiking the shoulders up to the neck during any sort of pressing movement. That could be push ups, dips, ring dips, etc. The neck and shoulder should be able to move independently of each other. One should be able to be relatively relaxed while the other is active, and vice versa.
In this person who hikes the shoulders up during these pressing movements, they are more or less creating an anchor point on their neck off of which their shoulder can function. This isn't the best or more desirable pattern. We want the shoulder to anchor through the thoracic spine and lumbar spine, for the scapula to anchor off of those areas rather than preferentially anchoring off the neck.

The technique I show in this week's video demonstrates a nice and easy way disassociate neck movement from shoulder tension, how to cue shoulders anchoring more downward vs upward using a band as a coach, and how to integrate it. I love when an inanimate object is a powerful coach. When you can set yourself or an athlete up with something that can teach them more effectively than your words, that is a big leap forward. I think we talk too much instead of letting someone learn from non-verbal cues.

I hope you enjoy this week's video!

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