Most of us has had the experience of waking up with stiff neck and shoulders; while the sensations could differ from radiating pain, numbness or stiffness, these could be indications of something more serious.
Given our less ideal postural habits working on the computer, or slouching on bed reading a favorite novel, it is not surprising that 85% of Singaporeans suffer back or neck pain at least once in their lives.
While occasional pain could be overlooked, chronic pain (defined as pain lasting from 3 to 6 months) should be properly treated.
You can do a quick check to see if your cervical spine (neck region) is misaligned. Stand in your most natural position facing the front, and ask a friend to check if your ears are in the same line above your shoulders. If your ears are infront of your shoulders, your shoulders might be rounded resulting in over extension of your trapezius muscles which means constant neck and shoulder aches and stiffness!
The scary thing is, if your cervical is misaligned or reduced. It is likely that you not only suffer from pain and stiffness but also other problems like sinusitis, insomnia, constant cough and cold.
The cervical is directly related to our mental health. Studies shown that chronic back pain could potentially lead to depression, and thus should not be simply ignored. (See: Depression and Back Pain)
Pain Causes that might surprise you
There are many causes which contribute to neck and shoulder pain. Aging is the most natural cause applicable to all, lifestyle habits, genetic causes or trauma are some of the common causes. If this pain is something you have recently developed, or has recently been aggravated, take some time to examine your daily routine.
Possible pain causes include
1. Constricted clothing. Wearing tight bras can restrict fluid and lymphatic flow, resulting in poor circulation.
2. Continuous muscle abuse. Poor sitting, standing and lying posture caused prolonged muscle contraction causing injuries in the long term. Habits such as sleeping on the belly, or using high pillows, sit up exercises cause unnecessary strain on our spine and muscles.
3. Improper breathing. As you inhale, your belly should swell as the abdominal cavity extends when the lungs fill up. If this does not happen when you breath, your breaths could be too shallow and inefficient creating stress in the body.
4. Body disproportion. Many do not realise that body disproportion can stress the body significantly. For example, comparatively short upper arms can result in elbows not reaching armrests, the person might compensate by slouching. Long term compensation will result in poor postural habits. You can check yourself in the mirror to spot if there is any body disproportion. Awareness is the first step to treating a problem.
5. Nutritional deficiencies. You are not just what you eat, but what your body absorbs. The main absorption of nutrients happen in the small intestine. If your gut is healthy, it has a tight barrier that forces nutrients to convert into a form that allows for transportation throughout the body channels. Consuming too readily available pain medications, antibiotics, alcohol etc on an empty stomach will damage the gastic lining creating breaches in the intenstinal barrier and a dysfunctional gut.
There is a interactive relationship between our gut and our health; chronic illnesses require more nutrients yet if our gut is not able to absorb the nutrients it forms a vicious cycle
Taking the next step
As mentioned, identifying the causes is the first and the most vital step in treating the problem. In Bliss, both Yoga and Ayurvedic treatments and nutritional solutions are used to alleviate and correct the body. Feel free to reach out if you have any feedback, or questions. All are welcome.