Podcast: Episode 192. Neck Mini Series: Reducing and Eradicating Neck Pain

Over the last three episodes of the neck mini series, I have covered the topics of alignment, making common neck movements or stretches work better for you, and the neck to rib cage to pelvis connection. Today, I am bringing it all together to conclude this neck mini series.

The neck can be a very classic compensator for issues elsewhere in the body, and there are several ways to deal with neck pain. This week, I remind you of the importance of connecting how we move with how we feel, and share four ideas to help you reduce and eradicate your neck pain.

Join me for this episode as I teach you the next steps you can take to continue exploring and experiencing your neck while supporting yourself to reduce pain, and walk you through some methods of finding pause, connection, and alignment in your body.

Click here to join my online training, The Power of Pure Movement: Unwinding and Unraveling Your Neck, taking place live on September 5, 6, 12, and 13, 2023!

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What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • The 2 categories of people who really benefit from working with me.
  • How to build data to share with a health professional on your path to pain-free movement. 
  • Methods for identifying sensation and noticing compensatory patterns.
  • How to use interoception and proprioception to explore what connections exist inside of you.

Full Episode Transcript:

Male Announcer: You’re listening to From Pain to Possibility with Susi Hately. You will hear Susi’s best ideas on how to reduce or even eradicate your pain and learn how to listen to your body when it whispers so you don’t have to hear it scream. And now here’s your host, Susi Hately.

Welcome and welcome back. With this episode I bring to conclusion my neck mini series for this session. And I say this session because I did run an initial neck mini series back with episodes 135 to 139. So if you’ve enjoyed this mini series, I encourage you to go back to those episodes if you want to keep the love of the neck mini series going.

I covered four topics with this particular series. The first one was on alignment. The second one was on how to make common neck movements or stretches work better for you. The third one was an exploration taking you through the neck and the ribcage and into the pelvis connection. And then today I’ll bring it all together.

The premise of this series and really everything that I teach is that there’s a lot of ways to deal with neck pain, and they all work. And I find that the key people who really resonate and benefit from what it is that I do, fall into two categories.

And the first group of people are people who have persistent pain, they have tried all the things and they just aren’t quite getting the sustainable results that they are seeking. Nothing wrong with the things that they’re trying. It’s just not all coming together for them within themselves. And they’ve had some gains, they know that things can change, they just aren’t quite getting to that next place.

And then the second group are yoga teachers and yoga teachers who are also health professionals, mostly RMTs and OTs, and they’re looking to provide more integrative therapeutic yoga modality into their practices, including breath and movement and stillness.

Within this series, one of the key focal points was that where the pain is, is not the problem, often. And that the neck can be a very classic compensator for issues elsewhere in the body, from the shoulder blades to the lower back, to the rib cage, to the SI joints and piriformis syndrome, down to the knees, inner plantar fasciitis of the feet. I mean, so many things in the body can be impacted by what’s going on in the neck.

And all of those areas can also be compensators for what’s really going on in the neck. So it’s just really this back and forth scenario. And so when you can start to tune in to how the body is moving from both an objective space, so really like how is the arm bone moving in the shoulder socket? How’s the leg bone moving in the hip socket? Like what is actually going on here that we can both agree on, in addition to how is the body actually feeling?

And being able to combine the objective with the subjective to allow for that which is really going on to be uncovered or to arise. Because sometimes, to solve the problem requires an intellectual processing of what the actual problem is, what’s actually going on here. And other times the thing that’s really the thing that needs to be resolved to make the whole thing move forward, really just shows up in front of us. It really has this way of arising sometimes.

And the way that I’m talking about this reminds me of a conversation I had with my daughter a short time ago when she lost a small colorful stone that she really, really liked. And I remember talking with her about how we could go through the Q&A of really figuring out where the stone last was, where do you remember it was? Like all those typical questions we ask when we have misplaced something.

And then other times we just simply have to stop looking. And then when we stop actively looking, the thing shows up. Much like the small colorful stone did when we actually stopped thinking about where it possibly could be. So that’s what I mean by we can cognitively or intellectually process and try and figure it out, or we can learn how to just pay attention, feel into our bodies and notice.

Notice what these connections are. Which brings me to the second focal point, which was really to explore and to experience what connections exist inside of you from both a perspective of interoception and proprioception.

So feeling the sensations of your body and feeling your body parts in space, how they’re moving in space, where they exist in space, and in this situation to be able to build your ability to feel the gradient of sensation that actually exists.

And what I mean by that is the sensation that exists in addition to the stretch sensation or the pain sensation, which is what a lot of people are already familiar with. And there’s plenty of other sensation they are either not tuned into, or they might be noticing but they don’t deem as being significant or important.

And when we can tap into this gradient, I have found that with my clients we can find more connections to other parts of the body that really, really, really become significant, important, and very, very obvious. Obvious next steps to be able to help resolve the problem of the neck.

So next steps for you. What do you do next? How can you apply this information? So here are some next steps for you as you continue to explore and experience your neck and support yourself in reducing and eradicating your neck pain. And I’ve got four ideas for you.

The first is, when you start to incorporate movements into your practice or into your day to day plan for supporting yourself, and maybe you’ve been given these exercises by a health professional. Maybe you have found them on YouTube or on TikTok or anywhere else online. Before you get into doing the movement, just take a pause.

Take an initial pause and just notice what’s going on inside. Before you get into the movement, feel what’s happening now. Notice what’s driving you. Notice what your intention is here. Because your mental and emotional state going into the movement will have a big impact on how you feel going through the movement.

Aligned with number one, number two is to recognize your breathing. Recognize your breathing before you go into the movement and then while you’re in the movement.

Breath can be so profoundly clarifying because if you start to go into the movement and you start to hold your breath while you move, then that’s an indication that maybe you’re either moving too fast, or you’re going too far, or there’s not enough support around you while you’re doing the movement.

So pay attention to the breath. It can be very, very impactful. As you’re getting into the movement, think about how you’re doing the movement. This is number three, how you are doing the movement. And in the how of you’re doing the movement, where else are you adding in?

So if you’re taking your ear to your shoulder, for example, are you also side bending through your ribcage? Is your ribcage coming down towards your pelvis when the intent is to move your ear towards your shoulder? Because your ear towards your shoulder is a side bend of your neck. You don’t need to side bend your rib cage down towards your pelvis. That’s no longer doing a side bend of your neck.

So that would be a compensatory strategy. You might not even be aware that you’re doing it. But allow yourself to tune in to what else is going on. Maybe you are clenching with your toes. Or you’re clenching with your butt. Or your shoulders are rising up to your ears. Or any number of extraneous movement patterns elsewhere in your body that are not needed in order for you to move your neck. So pay attention to those how’s.

How are you doing? What else in addition is coming online? And pay attention, this is number four, to any of the gripping patterns that might be involved, which is building upon number three. And the reason for this is if you’re asking your body to do all this extraneous work, then you’re basically asking your system and telling your system that this is normal.

And this will be the habitual groove that you will continue to refine and hone. And if you want a different patterning, you’re going to need to do something different.

And then one bonus one for you here is this, tune into other sensations that are present. Many people who are looking to improve how their pain feels, often are aware of what stretching feels like and what pain feels like. But between those or around those, there’s less awareness. Yes, they might be aware of some sensation, but the sensation doesn’t quite have importance yet. It doesn’t have significance yet.

So as you’re doing the movement, can you just take a glimpse or an inventory of what else you are noticing? And that will build out the language and the understanding of what’s contributing to how your neck feels, how other body parts are contributing to how your neck feels, and then how you can support your body and your whole system to really down regulate, to settle, so that your whole system can reset. And then your neck doesn’t have to be quite as tight or taught or in pain as you’re used to it being right now.

So bit by bit, one step at a time, one movement at a time, and one breath at a time, tuning in interoceptively to what it is that you’re feeling. Tuning into how your body is moving. Gathering that data of what you’re paying attention to, and allowing that to inform you of what you get to do next. And if you bring that kind of information to a health professional, they can provide you with so much assistance.

If this has resonated, and you would like my help over six hours through the first part of September, it would be an honor and a real pleasure to work with you and to support you with understanding what’s contributing to your neck. How maybe your neck is a great compensator and how to support it to not be so much so, and allow your body to function better and to feel better. You can learn more and register at learn.functionalsynergy.com/neck.

You will have forever access to these as recordings. There’s no extra fee, so if you can attend live, awesome. If you can’t attend live, that’s okay, you can get the recordings and you will have them forever. Have a great, great time exploring and we’ll see you next time. Take care

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