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Tension in the upper back / neck

Raaamil
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Tension in the upper back / neck

Hello dear community,

I encounter issues sitting comfortably while in the stretchsit and I do not exactly know why that is the case.

After having seated myself well behind (something I am not used to do when sitting down normally) I perform the shoulder roll as described in the book and straighten my neck. After a short while I start to feel tension creep in into my upper back and neck making it uncomfortable. I do not exactly know what causes the tension, but I feel more like enduring the exercise than enjoying it.

First I thought that I might be swaying my back but I paid attention and I do not think that this is the causing issue. I do not know whether you can help me just by reading this description. If not I would be happy to provide you with a picture of me stretchsitting.

 

Thank you so much!

Ramil

 

P.S.

I feel bad about asking for case-specific help in the forum, as I am aware that you also need to earn your money. But sadly, being a student with no monthly income, I do not have many options left.

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10/29/2013 - 4:01pm

Hello Ramil,

 It is hard to give an advice without seeing one (yes, you can send us a picture), having  background information. 

In the mean time, here are a couple of suggestions:

1) My suspition is that you are pushing yourself a little too much. Keep in mind that it takes time for muscles to adopt to a new length. Go slowly!  Cut back in the amount you lengthen your back, do smaller Shoulder Rolls and do less with your head/neck. You want to aim for somewhere in between where you are right now and the 'ideal'. Stretchsitting is not an exercise. Work happens in arranging all the body parts into Stretchsiting and then- you relax. Let the chair and your body architecture hold you. There is no insisting on holding any kind of position.

2) Think of the spine as a building block stack. When you change the architecture below, flatten the sway in your low back, that's when you see the full extent of your thorasic curve/ forward head posture. We address this with Shoulder Rolls and the head /neck positioning. However, if your thorasic curve is rigid, then flattening the sway will leave your head cantilevered in front. That's asking a lot of your upper back/ neck muscles that are holding your head up. They will get sore. You can work around it by scooching your bum a little forward, so that you are Stretchsitting, but at a slight angle. This places your head over your shoulders and your neck/shoulder muscles can relax- they don't have the job of holding your head. 

Hope this helps!

Aurelia

Gokhale Method Teacher, Chicago

 

Raaamil
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Hello Aurelia,

honestly there is no sitting position I am aware of, which does not strain my neck/upper back after some time. The best thing I can think of is to rest my head somewhere: either on a headrest or on my own arm/hand. What also helps to alleviate the tension is to put up my legs(sitting on them or having one knee angled up to chest level - a positon I have been sitting in for quite some time in the last few years).

I attached a few pictures below: two of them show me in a meditation pose (thighs angled down slightly) the other two are me trying to perform a stretchsit, but failing to find a comfortable position. Looking at the pictures, do you have any advice on how to find comfortability? In which direction do I have to "think" with my head in order to make results happen over time without straining my muscles etc. too much?

My neck-problems actually reach further than just taking away the possibility of comfortable sitting: I observed that when I am standing/walking I generally look down to the ground at a very steep angle and whenever I want to take a look ahead I either have to lift my head by swaying in my back or by craning my neck. Sadly both do not feel very comfortable and I eventually drop my head forward, looking at the ground again (which also is not very comfortable of course).

It would be hugely helpful if I could find a way to work on that. Do you have any ideas?

 

Kind regards,

Ramil

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Hello Ramil,

Thank you for sending the pictures. I am sorry you are so uncomfortable when sitting, standing and walking!

 To do justice to your situation, I need to know your background, health history and have photos of different poses. What I recommend is an Initial Consultation, in person or online. A teacher will review all your information and go over with you step by step, pointing out how your particular body architecture relates to your symptoms and chalk out a pathway how to work with it.

General observations from the photos:

In meditation pose you are tucking your pelvis. This doesn't allow your spine to stack well and doesn't support your head, refer to Stacksitting, chapter #3 in the '8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back' book.

Sretchsitting pose: You are leaning against the back rest of your chair but 1) you are not stretching your low back- there is no pinch of skin right above the point of contact.  2) Your head and shoulders are a little bit forward. If you can, work with positioning your shoulders a little more back with the Shoulder  Rolls and glide the head back and lengthen the back of the neck. But only of it doesn't cause you more strain!

Best of luck,

Warmly,

Aurelia

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