When one hears the word “Whiplash,” it’s possible that the first image that comes to mind is the academy award winning movie starring J.K. Simmons as a controversial music instructor. It’s far more likely however, that one’s primary thoughts immediately turn to the association this word has with neck pain, trauma and more specifically, a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Given the tumultuous, unrelenting “lessons” inflicted on his jazz students throughout the film, a case could be made that it accurately describes both the mental abuse suffered by the aspiring students, as well as the pain associated with this disorder.
It’s happened to all of us – you wake up and go to turn your head but then you feel pain. You may not be able to comfortable move your head or neck as a result. Some people have a headache or feel tight across their shoulders. Usually these symptoms resolve in a couple of days but waiting for them to get better can be uncomfortable.
Look around as you sit at the café or as you walk into work. How many heads do you see angled down at their smartphones? The human head weighs about 12 lbs, but as the head angles forward and down the force on the neck begins to increase exponentially. At a 15 degree angle the head weighs 27lbs., 30 degrees 40lbs, 45 degrees 49lbs, and 60 degrees 60lbs.1
One of the most common treatment methods to alleviate muscular pain and post-work out soreness is the foam roller and there is a good reason for that. Foam rollers are a great treatment option to mobilize tight tissue especially for larger areas on your body that you want to address. But what if you want to really zone in on a particularly small area of tight muscle? What if the muscle you want to address isn’t easily mobilized with a foam roller? What if you don’t have a foam roller with you? Enter the massage ball.
In my experience as a physical therapist, one of the most common reasons patients seek out physical therapy is due to pain of the spine. Although certain factors related to neck or back pain are outside of our control (such as aging or arthritis), there are many factors that we do have influence over – including sleeping position.
Have you ever experienced a burning pain or a “pins and needles” sensation running from your shoulder down to your hand? Even though you might think there is a problem with your shoulder, your neck may be the issue even if you are not experiencing neck pain.