Stiff Neck, Limited Range of Motion, PNF
These are self-care tips to help bring temporary relief while we are dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. These exercises alone probably won't solve the problem because we are addressing symptoms not the root issues like common compensatory patterns caused by muscular imbalances, poor posture, overuse or inactivity. These tips are best used between bodywork sessions as home-retraining exercises recommended by a Myoskeletal Alignment Therapist, Physical Therapist, or a bodyworker who takes a global approach and understands how to assess and treat the underlying issues. For lasting results seek professional help to address the underlying issue and contributing factors.
Still Neck, Limited Range of Motion
If you know what direction you have limited range of motion you can skip the self-assessment.
Self-Assess: Compare range of motion in lateral flexion (ear to shoulder), rotation (turn nose to shoulder), extension (looking up), and flexion (chin to chest). You are looking for stiffness or if one direction is more limited than the other.
In this example we are going to work on rotation to the left.
Turn your head to the left just to the point of discomfort.
Place your right hand gently against the right side of the face and don't allow the head to turn to the right.
You aren't going to push against the hand, just look with your eyes to the right into the hand against your face. Just enough to gently engage the muscles. Your goal is just to get the brain to communicate with the muscle. It's not much effort at all.
Hold for the count of five, breath in and as you breath out relax the neck and gently test to see if you can get a little more motion to the left.
Again, go to the point of discomfort and look into the right hand for the count of five, breath in, and as you breath out relax and gently test for gained range of motion.
You can repeat the process 3 or 4 times then move on to the next range of motion you want to increase.
Another example: if you are wanting to gain range of motion in lateral flexion to the right (taking your right ear to your right shoulder) you would go to the point of discomfort or to the end of your range, then place your left hand on the left side of your face and look left into your left hand for the count of five, breath in, and as you breath out relax the neck and try to gain a little more range of motion.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Fascilitation (PNF)
The Science behind the technique: This stretching technique is called Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Fascilitation (PNF) this is the antagonist-contract method. That's some big words to simply say if you flex the antagonist (or opposite) muscle of the one you are stretching your target muscle has no choice but to relax. This technique utilizes the Law of Recipricol Inhibition which is a neuromuscular reflex that explains if you flex your bicep your tricep has to relax. They can't both flex at the same time. This method can be applied to any muscle you are trying to stretch or any area you are trying to gain range of motion.
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