Fix Turtle Neck, Hunch Back

There’s an epidemic running through human bodies. It isn’t always visible because the degree of imbalance is slight. It causes hunched backs, searing pain in the neck, rounded shoulders, even pronated or supinated knees or feet — each issue stems from a problem of imbalance.  Out of wack, and offline bodies. Once as I watched a client walking on the treadmill I could see the alignment issues that caused her neck pain. From the side view head was extended in front of her shoulders and trunk. A typical “turtle neck” presentation. Now try to fix that issue is another matter entirely. It would not be possible to simply remedy the problem by asking her to pull her chin in. She wasn’t trying to be uncooperative, it was just too hard because her musculature wasn’t cooperating. 

My standard speech to clients is that an imbalance needs to be addressed from both sides. Strengthen the back — stretch the front. It wasn’t until my own issues got so severe that I looked back at my anatomy books and started researching this issue. Massage is my go to remedy. Foam rolling is too, but it isn’t nearly as effective because I’ll stop working the area because it hurts. I’ve been blessed with two fantastic Massage Therapists in my life. One retired from massage and opened a restaurant. The other is now my go to person in St. Louis. My LMT works on the areas that need it, but disregards my complaints because she knows what’s best for me. During my last session she mentioned how tight my chest, brachialis, and the corachobrachialis (inner arm). All along I thought my issue was in my pecs — specifically the pectoralis minor, but I’d never thought about any other muscles. Until I was led to this article. Armed with this information from my last massage I went to work with another client. One who was having issues with her hamstrings — she’s new to the yoga community and loving it.

I’ve never been a yoga person. More of a Pilates gal, but a friend brought my attention to Yoga International through an article about hamstrings. That led me to see this article: 3 Poses for Neck and Shoulder Pain.

“. . . Skillful body work concentrating on these upper back muscles will help ease your pain, but it will not eliminate the cause, which is tension in the front of the chest, in the pectoralis minor. If you suffer from upper back pain, try massaging just beneath your collarbones, especially between the third and fifth ribs, which will likely be quite tender. (You may be surprised to feel a corresponding twinge under your shoulder-blade, a hint of the neurological link between these areas.) It is just as important for you to massage the muscles in the front of your upper chest as it is to have your upper back massaged. Tenderness in the muscles of your chest indicates that problems will persist until the muscles are relieved of their chronic tension through focused stretching. . . “

Sometimes this issue is from our work. Sitting at a computer, lifting weights and never stretching, but that’s not the only way you can find yourself facing joint and muscle issues. Overuse and life in general can cause these offline bodies. This author does admit that some of the issues can be caused by over enthusiastic yoga participants. More is not better, yoga is a practice and you do it often and over time to ease the body into alignment and health. The same thing goes for any exercise. With this in mind I encourage you to look at your body from front to back and see where you can improve. If you have pain in the front, look to the back. Sometimes knee pain is caused from hamstrings. Explore your options and be mindful of your body and what it needs.

Being a Life Coach and fitness instructor can lead me away from my own issues. I don’t see my shoulders rolling forward, I don’t recognize my own turtle neck, and therefore I don’t make the changes I need. I have a head as hard as a rock. . . so I do understand when clients don’t hear me the first 3 or 4 times. I get it — don’t do what I do. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it says.

Working in the disability community I have seen conditions caused from providing care, and in the loved one the physical is a result of their conditions. In those instances a very different approach is necessary. If you are a caregiver (and even if you are not) and would like to discuss any physical issues you have with stiff and sore body parts, please contact me via this site or at my Facebook page Karen Sullivan’s ZWL Coaching. I welcome the opportunity to talk with you at no charge.

Be Well!

Comment on this post or find me on Facebook for the name and phone number of my massage therapist!


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