neck pain

Exercise: Resist the Head!

In this video, I demonstrate one more neck tension relieving exercise - also from the Qigong series, "Eight Pieces of Brocade" (although, this particular move is from Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming's 'sitting set', and therefore, it can easily be done, well, sitting. Or, even while you're still in bed.)

While stretching-type motions often feel good, there's something about contracting the musculature against resistance that can really help with release of a tight area. This has to do with the Golgi tendon organs, and other mysterious components of muscle tissue that responds differently with novel types of stimuli.

All you need to know is that it can help your neck, upper back, and even your mid-back feel a lot better in a pinch.

As I mention in the video, your hands are placed on the base of your skull - not your neck.

And, it's a bit more effective if you are pushing your head back n the right direction - not so much with a 'lifting' of the chin, but by tucking the chin under and sliding the head back. AS you GENTLY stretch the head forward, keep the chin tucked under.

After you do this 4-5 times, you may notice your neck muscles releasing and the stretch moving further down in to your back and spine. (You can do this up to 8 times, if it's comfortable.)

Please note: If you ever feel any kind of pain, especially of the radiating sort, use your judgement and stop the exercise, if necessary, If this kind of sensation continues, it may be wise to consult a chiropractor, or other health care professional with a background in structural issues.

Have fun! And, as always, we welcome your feedback!

Exercise: freeing and strengthening the neck

... in which I get distracted by the cameraman. :)

As you'll hear me say in the video, this move comes from a Qigong routine called, "The Eight Pieces of Brocade".

As the legend goes, it was developed in the 11th century by a Chinese general to help strengthen, revitalize and even heal his troops before and after battle. This particular exercise helped the soldiers maintain strength and mobility throughout the neck muscles in order to bear up under their heavy helmets.

For us, it can help us bear up under our 42-pound heads (Hopefully, you read that post, or you may not get the reference...)

And, as I also say in the video, it can be soooooo boooooorrrrring to do.

But, in my own experience, as well as the experience of almost everyone I've recommended it to, it's almost miraculous for dealing with neck pain, and in my case, putting an end to months of vertigo.

A few key points to remember:

~ Remember to tuck your chin under slightly and bring the ears back over the shoulders. Doing this with a hyperextended ("turtle") neck will work against you, as you'll be creating a shearing force in the vertebrae.

~ As you reach your end range of motion in the turn, think 'opening' rather than 'stretching'. This matters particularly if you have a lot of tension, as pushing past your 'easy barrier' can make the tension worse, and possibly bring on dizziness or headache.

Yeah, it's that powerful.

Okay! So give it a go and tell us what you think.

One more thing, if you are really committed to trying this out, consistency is really important.

Trying it once or twice, even a couple times a week, probably won't do much for you. In my case, I was practicing this every day for 23 days (eight times in each direction, and with three different hand positions - 24 times in all) when I suddenly felt a noticeable release in my neck and into my shoulder.

So, be patient and persevering. That's probably the hardest part of all this. (And if you have questions, or a neck condition you're dealing with, please feel free to contact us!)

Good luck! (Click the image to view...!)

Exercise: Ramping Your Head

Now that we've introduced you some ideas about 'good posture' and alignment (which will continue to be fleshed out as this series goes along), let's try an alignment-oriented movement, which addresses the relationship between your head and your upper body.

You may have noticed (or, maybe are noticing right now) that when positioned in front of a screen (or book, or dinner plate, or steering wheel), your head not only drifts out in front of your upper body, but your neck takes on a kind of turtle-quality, as your cervical vertebrae go into 'hyper-extension', or excessive curvature.


Besides the pain in the neck this eventually causes, over the long haul, those vertebrae undergo chronic, imbalanced compression, leading to joint inflammation (arthritis) and degeneration of the discs. (Think of what happens to a door hinge over the years when the door is hanging crooked...)

What this simple movement is intended to do is to not only bring your head more in alignment with your upper body (ie, ears stacked over the shoulders); but allow for the elongation of the neck as the vertebrae are given more space, and eventually some release in the tightened short muscles of the back of the neck.

There are more mechanics to reversing this pattern, but this is a good place to begin.

Ideally, you would 'practice' this as often as you could remember throughout the day. I also recommend 'ramping' anytime you're doing movements that involve turning the head, or when doing exercises in a 'down on all fours position.' The video will give you demonstrations of what I mean.

Let us know what you think!

In the next post, we'll add 32 more pounds on to your head!