Vancouver Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) at Broadway Wellness keep this in mind when assessing and treating their patients complaining of symptoms such as sore neck and shoulders, painful and clicking jaw, or even headaches.
To see how your neck is situated in relation to its normal position, a preliminary simple test many Broadway Wellness RMT’s use is to examine the position of your ear in relation to your shoulder when looking at your standing profile. Your ear should be directly in line with your shoulder – allowing an imaginary vertical line to be drawn between the centre of these 2 points. If the center your ear is lining up anterior to the center of your shoulder, this is a good general indication of “head forward posture,” which can be putting strain on your neck and shoulders, adding to TMJ (pain in the temporo-mandibular joint), or headaches.
How does this happen? Monica Cleland, RMT and founder of Broadway Wellness in Vancouver, states, “It is very common in whiplash injuries from motor vehicle accidents or sports – at any point in our lives – to develop a strain along the fascia (connective tissue) and musculature at the front and sides of our necks. This strain becomes fibrous and dense during the post-injury healing process, eventually chronically pulling our necks and heads forward. Being seated in front of a computer for hours each day, with our heads directed forward toward the computer screen, and our arms situated in front of us typing, can also lead to a chronic head-forward postural alignment.” Monica goes on to explain that the resulting alignment causes a stretch and strain to be put on the musculature at the back of our necks, causing chronic pain and tension. The small muscles at the base of our skull, and our trapezius muscles become tight and painful as they strain to maintain our alignment. Additionally, the smaller muscles at the sides and the front of our necks are put under added strain as they are not designed to hold the weight of our heads, which is the job of the thicker, larger muscles along the back of our neck. Jaw pain can develop because the TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) cannot align properly when the head is pulled forward from its resting position, and headaches can develop as a referral from chronically tense and tight neck musculature.
Many Vancouver massage therapy practitioners at Broadway Wellness are trained to work with the myo-fascia of the body – the connective tissue layers which line and envelop our musculature. In the case of head-forward posture, possibly leading to symptoms such as painful neck and shoulders, headaches, and jaw tension, it can be important to address the musculature and connective tissue at the front of the neck. While the back is often where the pain is, sometimes the stress and strain cannot be taken off of the posterior musculature until the front of the neck had been softened. Many RMT’s at Broadway Wellness are using gentle yet effective fascial techniques to soften, lengthen, and individuate the structures, and connective tissue along the anterior portion of the neck. If the above set of symptoms and life circumstances seem familiar to you, exploring your postural alignment through addressing the connective tissues of your neck with a Massage Therapist using a fascial approach might be a good avenue to explore.