Neck Stretches and Self Mobilizations (Get Rid of Headaches and Neck Pain!)

Neck Stretches and Self Mobilizations (Get Rid of Headaches and Neck Pain!)

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Hi there it’s Adam Schetsclaar, physical therapist with Sound Balance Physical Therapy, and today we’re going to talk about neck stretches and what I call mobilizations so these self mobilizations you won’t see very many places but they’re very effective you just have to be extra careful with them consult your doctor or physical therapist before performing these exercises I kind of feel like I’m about to get a haircut or just finished a workout but we’re going to start with just a basic towel just the hand towel needs to be bigger than a washcloth you can use a full-size towel and that’s okay but it’s a little bit easier to manage a smaller towel what we’re going to do is just grab the ends flip it over the back and what we want to do is grab this way is just a little bit more comfortable curving your fingers around this way so that we can keep the nape of this towel right up against the top of the neck right under the occiput right under the skull so you’re going to come down and there’s a little lump in the back of the skull and we’re going to drop down right below that and put that towel right there and then we’re going to keep this part right along the cheekbone or even with the teeth it starts right below the earlobe and you’re just going to pull pretty well straight forward right under the eyeball there now we’re not yanking we’re going to be very gentle we’re just putting some firm pressure firm but very gentle pressure forward and gliding the head backwards into the towel we’re going to hold it for about 10 seconds so from the front looks like this just gliding straight back we’re not going to look up just straight back into it on the other side it looks like this just that pressure behind the neck right under the skull can help with headaches and what we’re doing is we’re holding with the towel holding the vertebra in place as as we glide the head backwards into that towel very gently this can get rid of a headache if you’ve got one coming on if you’ve got a full-fledged headache you can try it but it usually is too late at that point but if you do this regularly you can avoid the headaches all together this particular exercise I did I actually ran into a tree and kicked my head and numbness coming down my shoulder and neck went into the doctor of course I got stitched up but then as I began to heal I began to get headaches and they tend to start right at the back of the neck and they come right up over the head and settle into the forehead or even into the back of the eye this is perfect for these headaches often they get miss characterized as a headache that is a migraine or cluster headache because you can’t have the sensitivity to light nausea and everything that goes along with that but this is actually a cervical genic headache that comes from the back of the skull up over the head and into the eyeball feels like pressure behind the eye push them right there horrible horrible things in this simple simple exercise can help you get rid of it just pull and gently glide back it’ll hold about ten seconds and I would repeat between six to ten times don’t overdo it don’t pull too hard now the next exercise we’re going to do is another mobilization with the towel so so I’m going to start with that same position but what I’m going to do is drop this one down to my chest and switch arms again catching right below the occiput the back of the head along the ear and what we’re going to do is gentle pressure and then actually turn to the side what this looks like from the side is we’re turning to the side here the towel does most of the work and your arm and you want to hold that gentle pressure the entire time over and the entire time back and then gently release you can reset if you need to and you can try if it’s not working for you try some different positions both of these mobilizations should be pain-free the entire time so if you’re finding that you’re getting more pain, nausea, dizziness, a woolly-headed feeling I want you to stop and that’s number two and of course we would do this both sides so I would switch sides hold this side down cross over and pull I had a little bit of a pop not a painful pop there but I could use a little bit more of this exercise some people that come in the clinic and they say every time I look to this side I just feel it, snap crackle pop in there it’s like popcorn this is this is the one for them ok so we had going straight forward leaning back then we switch hands we come across the body very gentle and easy now we’re going to move into some deep neck stretches what we have is somewhat of a mobile a muscle myofascial type exercise here we’re going to stretch the deep muscles in the neck on the front I think you’re really going to like this one what we’re going to do is just place the hand right over the collarbone here on either side don’t choke yourself but you’re just taking up little bit of the slack in the skin and I’m just pulling very gently down placing my hands on those collarbones to keep the collar ones down because these muscles come down and attach there and then what we’re going to do is look up and the problem people have with this exercise is they tend to open their mouth but a lot of these connect up to the up to the neck and the jaw so if we leave the jaw open we don’t get as good of a stretch I don’t want you to clench but we do want to just gently look up and you can even experiment with that a little bit try it with your mouth open and then gently close and you’ll feel as you close these muscles tighten up there we’re not kinking back real hard and what I want you to try is to bend from the very bottom the other thing that people will mess up with this is is they’ll lean forward and they’ll just kink their neck up at the skull that’s not what we’re doing what we want to do is come back and then up the jaw gently closed you may not even get that high some people may be way back just go until you feel a stretch so hands here one hand on each collarbone look up jaw gently closed. you’ll be surprised how tight you are here now we’re going to move to the next one the same hand position this is another deep neck flexors stretch we’re going to put the hands on the collar bones we’re going to come up and then we’re going to look over to the side and what you’ll feel is this stretch coming down the side opposite that you’re looking towards then up to the other side and I feel that all the way down and it doesn’t take much you don’t really need a crane way over there just up until you feel the stretch and hold for 20 seconds again don’t clench just breathe normal I think you’re really going to like those two exercises now we’re going to move on we’re going to drop the hands and I’m actually going to put my hand behind my back on the small of my back and that’s gonna keep this shoulder down once you get stretched out really well what you’re going to do is use this hand to grip the bottom of the chair or actually slide it under your bottom we’re just going to put that right underneath the small of my back and I’m just going to go straight to the side this is an exercise that’s going to stretch the side of your neck try to keep your head facing forward it’s good to do these in the mirror just in the bathroom you can do them standing, sitting, or even, use caution but, you can use them at traffic lights is what I’ll get patients to just stretch while you’re at a traffic light and you’re just leaning to the side you keep an eye on the traffic light and stretching here then I’m going to switch this hand goes into the small of my back and I lean to the side the advanced techniques here are to move this hand under the small of the back and then under the chair and you’ll see that drops this shoulder down even more from small of the back to chair and then over to the side and you’ll feel this stretch all the way through here you can see that muscle is tight there and then if you get a real good stretch after a few weeks or even months of this what we can do is add a very little gentle pressure with the other hand to get even more stretch my massage therapist she actually will do some manual techniques while you do that stretch and you can even try that if you want to kind of come down the muscle or just pin the bottom of the muscle here as you come to the side can be very good for that tension that you have up high into the shoulders and the neck here so hand in the small of the back lean to the side very easy to do and I recommend well as we go through these next couple exercises that you try moving around just a little bit and notice how that changes the stretch along the neck the next thing we’re going to do is up so we’re kind of coming to the side and then looking up it’s very similar to the last one but we’re not coming way back we’re just kind of coming to the side and rotating up looking up towards the ceiling and you’ll feel that right through here you can even see that muscle kind of coming out a little bit there because it’s tight on me I don’t do these often enough the next one is down we’re going to look towards the armpit and we’re just going to come down like we’re going to sniff that armpit so work to the side and then rotate down towards the armpit so these three work really well in tandem we first get that hand down to keep this shoulder down we can come to the side once you’re stretched out here you rotate up and then rotate down and feel how that moves this stretch in the front over here to the back over here and then this side in the middle these ones work really well and I recommend that you do as you do this think about lengthening up and the lengthening over it’s not just a side bend over here like this up at the high neck that we’re actually lengthening up and over and feel that whole muscle feel that stretch and then we’re up and up towards the sky and down towards the armpit as you come towards the armpit you can even come forward a little bit and then I’ll move it to the back so as we do all these exercises always do dynamic think about not just going to the side but stretching out and coming to the side as well as moving through a couple of these different positions so that you can get all of the muscle fibers and you may find that somewhere in between instead of coming just all the way down to the armpit maybe halfway between you feel a little tightness somewhere in there and then you can stop and work on the tightness there so these are a great set of exercises if you do all of them it’s only going to take you a couple minutes to get through but your neck is going to be so much happier and always gentle and just enjoy these exercises work them into your day traffic lights, standing in line at the grocery store there are so many times when we were just standing there not really doing anything and you can run through these exercises and your neck will just love you, just love you, you’re going to feel so much better so get on those exercises and we’ll go from there if you watch my next video I have another video where I just do these with you so you can get the timing right and that’ll that’ll kind of help you out with how long to stretch and once you get a feel for it you know there’s no magic number here we’re looking for 20, 30 seconds or more but really any stretching is better than no stretching so just start pick one and give it a try and then add them in as you get better and more comfortable with these exercises so that’s it. Happy stretching!

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