Neck pain, Headaches, Migraines
If you are a sufferer of either one of the above conditions or even all three, I am going to outline my taught process for dealing with someone with these issues.
What do you already know?
Headaches are broken down into a number of different categories, We all have probably had a normal headache that lasts 30 minutes - 1 hour, take two panadol and it's gone. Then there are other types, tension-type headaches, cluster headaches, Migraine headaches they all are somewhat different but can result in the sufferer not being able to function as they would like too.These symptoms can be a throbbing pain, unable to look at bright lights, nausea, the list goes on but I have dealt with a lot of people with migraine symptoms and it's very severe and not to be taken lightly.
What do you do to help them?
In my experience, people go for the most powerful solution as everything else does not have the same impact. Painkillers and strong painkillers to help the person return to normal function. They are of course very powerful and yes they work. Also, people use ice in the painful area and some people use heat to relax the muscles of the neck.
What do you do to prevent them?
That's the interesting thing that always strikes me when it comes to clients, everyone in pain thinks it just happens. But for me its simple when someone presents with a bulging disc and pain going down their left leg, they always ask "How long will it take to fix?" and I always ask myself "Why did the disc bulge on the left and not the right?". Simply put if you can figure out the trigger then you can put in a plan.
If I had a Euro for each time I heard this statement: "It always gets worse when I am stressed", I would be a very rich man
Do I believe them that pain occurs when stressed? Of course, I do because I understand what stress does to the body.
What is it? We have all known about stress, the problems that come with it and how it can be very hard to control. Does stress contribute to peoples pain? sometimes yes. Does it contribute to peoples neck pain, headaches, and migraines? Every time YES. Now I don't look at stress like a mystifying thing that attacks me when I am not expecting it and takes over my life for that period of time, I have to look at objectively and the physiological aspects of what actually happens. Number one thing that changes with stress is RESPIRATION (breathing), we go from long deep breaths when relaxed to small shallow breaths when stressed - its a fact. Some people spend a lifetime or start a lifetime BREATHING this way and their posture tells me everything about them.
A flat back/neck:
Yes, someone with a flat neck (See pic) is likely to have the symptoms of neck pain, Migraines and headaches. Why? Because firstly you are using your neck muscles to get air into your body and that is not a good thing. You have a huge muscle (Diaphragm) under your ribs designed to pump air in and out of your body and if you have a flat back and neck that muscle is in a bad position and it won't be able to pump. Your upper back should be rounded not flat, your shoulder blades are a C shape so they need to sit on C shape ribs - if they are sticking out we are in trouble. I have never seen a migraine sufferer any other way - They all have flat necks and flat upper backs. Our body was designed with curves to distribute load evenly throughout the spine and if you see a flat spine that means trouble.
How to fix it?
If you have a flat neck or spine, you have very weak abs, Specifically Obliques. In studies it has shown that Maximum Oblique contraction happens on a full exhalation, in other words, you need to do an oblique exercise and learn how to exhale. If you ever come to a OnePILATES class you will only hear the instruction to EXHALE, everyone knows how to fill their lungs with air but no one knows how to FULLY empty them. The biggest misconception is that you take a deep breath in to relax, from now on try and get a deep breath out. Here is one of my favorite quotes from one of the greatest minds in health.
"To breathe correctly, you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying very hard to squeeze every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth" Joseph Pilates