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Is neck traction healthy?

cashew2501
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Is neck traction healthy?
Hello Esther! I attended your Boulder, Colorado workshop last October and learned so much. Your patient, comprehensive approach made all the material very easy for me to understand. Thanks again!

I have a question. A few years ago my chiropractor recommended that I do a traction exercise for my neck. He told me to simply lie  flat on a bed and hang my head off the bed (so that the head and neck are totally unsupported). He had me doing this for 5 mins a day. I am currently having a lot of neck and shoulder pain and plan on doing some exercises several times a day, but before incorporating this one I wanted to ask you--is this a healthy exercise to do, or not? If yes, then is there any advice you can offer about how to do it safely?

Thanks,
antonia
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Hi Antonia,

I remember you well. Too bad you're having neck and shoulder pain - I wonder why...

I think gentle neck traction is great, but not the way you're describing. You want to preserve the shape of the neck, not distort it. A lot of neck traction devices (e.g. the ones that sling over a door) don't pull on your head at a healthy angle. The one I like is a little pricey and need a doctor's prescription (though you can sometimes find them on e-Bay) - it's called a Saunder's cervical traction unit. Comes in a little suitcase and pulls the right way. Kind of expensive.

You can also create a home traction system by tying a LONG strap to a kitchen towel, creating a very big loop. Put a piece of the loop through the crack in the doorway just above one of the hinges and tie a knot on the other end so the loop remains fastened in the doorway when you close the door. Now lie down with your head cradled by the kitchen towel (use your hand sto help it not slip off your head) and you can scootch your body away from the door to create some gentle traction. It helps to be lying on a pillow to begin with and the loop needs to be very long so that the direction of pull is almost horizontal, not vertical.
cashew2501
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Thanks so much, Esther. I will try this method. Sounds much more gentle and comfortable than hanging my head off the bed! I am about to go on a road trip...I bet it'll work just as well using a car door if I make sure the loop is the right length! (Might get me some funny looks, but it's worth it :) )
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Hmmm - car doors have a pretty tight fit - be careful you don't destroy your car. Doors usually have big cracks that will easily accommodate a double thickness of strapping (I mean the kind used in yoga classes, usually available in a fabric store.)
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. .. Continuing the discussion ten years later! 

Hi Esther --

Thank you for the information you provided in response to Antonia's question about neck traction. Do you have any thoughts about inflatable cushions that claim to provide neck traction?

The link below is the sort of thing I'm considering. It's not expensive. Maybe worth a try --unless you think it could be counterproductive.  

https://www.amazon.com/Inflatable-Chiropractic-Alignment-Adjustable-Universal/dp/B07S3XQBM2/ref=psdc_11312453011_t1_B07KMKX43S

(Also attaching photo in case link doesn't work)

Having been diagnosed w/ cervical stenosis several years ago I've found your methods of stretch-lying, stretch- and stack-sittting, glide-walking, etc all very helpful.  
I will soon try the method you describe here with the towel. 


Thanks for any advice you may have on the inflatable thingy. 

 

--Roger B

--
 

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Greetings Roger,

We qualified Teachers of the Gokhale Method reply to the forum questions.

I'm glad to hear that you've practiced and found the Gokhale Method to be very helpful.

 

On the Gokhale Method website, go to this site: Recommended Products

 {Products>Shop>Products>Recommended Products (way too many steps!)}

There are several products for the neck on this page. Although one is similar to the product you mentioned, I'd choose the item that Esther has reviewed.

 

We offer many online lessons: Initial Consultations and the Gokhale Elements Course.

https://gokhalemethod.com/online_offerings

Our Online Initial Consultation is the best place to start. You'll work one-on-one with a qualified Gokhale Method teacher to pinpoint your specific posture concerns and begin with personalized coaching. Select a teacher from the menu to view availability and book your Online Initial Consultation today!

Gokhale Elements is a series of 18 on-demand lessons with Esther or one of our trained Gokhale Method Teachers. There are several bundle options including our posture products.

 

So glad that you are continuing on your posture journey!

Best to all,

Kathleen O'Donohue

RBB
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Thank you, Kathleen. That's great.  I'll definitely go with the product reviewed by Esther.  She's brilliant.  I'm probably going to buy the Gokhale chair this summer as well. 

I've been seriously considering taking a class, but may wait for things to open up here in VA rather than doing it online.

 (I think there's one near me in Falls Church, VA.)

Thanks again  

--Roger

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Thank you, Kathleen. 

I'm benefiting from your information, too.

I've a bit confused about which neck traction product to begin with. Thoughts?

Best, Ellie Skeele

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Greetings Ellie,

Always practice the optimal lengthening and positioning lessons in Esther's 8-Steps to a Pain-Free Back first, before, and while doing cervical traction of any kind.

The choice of neck traction products is individual. The inflatable device is the most portable, versatile, and least expenive. The two other devices are portable, require a support upon which to be suspended, and are more expensive. You can read the detailed desciptions and photos to make the decision best for you.

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