New massage tutorial video! This one’s on working with stiff necks, or “neck cricks.” As always, I come at this from a myofascial perspective, rather than trying to stretch the kink out or “break up knots.” I do a quick anatomy review of levator scapulae, and then I demonstrate my protocol on a client:
This is one of the few areas where I feel like massage can “fix” acute pain in one or two sessions. If I work slowly and give this area the time it needs, I can typically help them stand up from the experience with much of their range of motion restored.
I think that the “neck crick” phenomenon exemplifies one of reasons why massage is so useful. A little muscle in our neck gets irritated, and suddenly we have a huge amount of impairment. Rather than feeling like a spasm, it can often feel like a bone is out of place, which is a scary sensation. Suddenly, many of our tasks of daily living become more difficult, and even sleep can be out of reach.
Through massage, we can interface with the body and the nervous system and let them know that this crisis is a bit overblown. By gently introducing movement, and by using kind systematic touch to convey the message that all is well, we can defuse a scary situation.
Think about how this applies to all areas of pain. By putting the client back in touch with their own body, we can remove the fear of movement that often just perpetuates the impairment, and we can get the client thinking in terms of their whole body rather than their “bad back” or “bad ankle.”
I’d love to hear what you think! How’s your success rate with neck cricks, and what’s your strategy like? If you end up trying this approach, let me know how it goes!