Remember my neck pain and adventures in chiropractic treatment? And remember how I closed the door on that issue and considered myself cured? Well…

Six months after I saw the chiropractor for the last time, I began to have neck soreness again. That was after I threw out my lower back in October doing something as simple as slightly twisting my upper body. I must confess that I was doing nothing to maintain my spinal alignment or physical fitness; that is, I had completely blown off any and all exercises. In fact, I don’t even think that I was remembering good posture at that point. I knew that things were heading downhill fast when I started getting all-day headaches and I frequently felt a little dizzy. Not good.

Thank heavens for Julianna, my trusted athletic trainer and sports medicine guru. She almost always has the answer when it comes to how to treat a muscle/bone/you-name-it physical ailment. I came crying to her about my neck woes and she suggested physical therapy that incorporated manual therapy. Though I’d tried PT years ago without success, she assured me that finding the right therapist, who practiced such techniques and focused on helping patients make lifestyle adjustments, would make a difference.

She was right. After only a few months, I feel so much better. Rehabilitation didn’t come without additional pain, though. Serious, butt-kicking, stifle-the-screams pain. Manual therapy is not your typical “feel good” massage. He was digging into muscles that were sore and had been sore for ages and manipulating them until they could move better. Owwwwwwww! I did weights and other strengthening exercises that pushed me but also made me feel like I was in control of my body. He showed me how to sit, stand, work at the computer, and otherwise carry my head and shoulders so that those muscles wouldn’t freeze up and become aggravated.

If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: prevention and awareness can make all the difference:

  • Prevention — I said this before, but I don’t think I really stressed the weight of its importance well enough: SIT UP! Put your shoulders back and keep your head in alignment with your spine. Do not let your head lean forward, especially while at the computer. Stretch your neck muscles regularly and exercise well. This website had some helpful ideas for stretching. Take breaks from your activities, even if you are maintaining correct ergonomic positions.
  • Awareness — Realize when you are feeling those first signs of muscle discomfort or fatigue and then move positions. Stretch, move your head, do something different and then come back to your activity with correct posture.

I’m not cured. I still have work to do, most of it being remembering proper posture. But as I continue to exercise, get physically fit overall (another post to come), and stretch, stretch, and stretch again those problematic muscles, I know that my neck will keep improving.

Oh, and I do think that chiropractic can make a difference in pain, it just didn’t work out to be the best solution for me. Or at least that particular chiropractor didn’t…

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