Baby, It’s Cold Outside

As Summer fades into the background and the colder days of Autumn set in, things get cold in Frederick. This morning is a great example. Car doors were a little tougher to open, lawns were frosted over and crispy, and you could see your breath in the air. And it’s still October. I’ve had a few patients pop in this morning and the first thing everyone said was something like “D@%*, it’s cold outside!”

Something I have noticed in practice is that as the temperature drops lower there is a sudden rise of neck pain cases coming through the doors at Park Bench. While I can’t say exactly why that is, and everybody has a different case, I suspect it has something to do with people needing to tighten up and try to hold themselves together tighter to retain heat. Shoulders get closer to ears when it’s cold outside – just look around and you’ll see! People really pull the covers tighter in bed, too, and they cuddle up closer to loved ones (or animals) as they sleep.

If the Shoulders are going UP, make them go DOWN

Whatever the reason is, neck pain is a real thing. Now, obviously we all need to put our phones down and do some neck stretches, but instead focusing just on that today I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about “UNSHRUGGING”.

Unshrugging is the intentional act of using your shoulder muscles to actively bring your shoulders down as low as you can pull them. If shrugging is the act of raising your shoulders, then unshrugging is the opposite. Use the muscles at the bottom of your shoulder blades to pull those shoulders blades downward and inwards towards each other.

It may be cold outside, but for this purpose I want you to drop it like it’s hot (outside). See what I did there? Clever, I know.

Check out this handy infographic I have created.

Pull your shoulders down and relax your neck.
Pull those shoulders down, down, down!

Now, just like all changes to posture, this is going to take some repetition. We all get set into patterns, and to break a pattern we need to actively and very conscientiously focus on doing things a different way.

One of the better ways to do this is to tie your new habit to an existing habit, preferably a good habit. So, every time you go grab a glass of water or take a min-break from your computer desk, or every time you take a nice, deep breath from your belly…when you do something like that also be sure to UNshrug.

Getting your shoulders to stop being UP is a great goal. Making sure to purposefully get your shoulders DOWN is a great way to get there. And if you can relax your shoulders and keep them down then I bet you’ll start experiencing much less neck pain, especially the kind of stiff pain associated with cold weather hitting an already tight and dysfunctional neck.

Make it happen

Hey now, if you enjoyed reading this then don’t like it and don’t subscribe. We don’t do that, this isn’t Youtube. Instead, just implement this for yourself and enjoy the postural benefit and reduced neck pain. Better yet, come in to our office and see if Park Bench Chiropractic can help you reach some health goals. If you’re not so sure about chiropractic, that’s OK, just do lots of stretches and some rehab exercises and pay attention to your posture. But if you need a hand, or maybe a gratifying crunch, then give us a call.