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Joseph Amburgey

What exercises are used for strengthening neck stabilizers?

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Joseph Amburgey

Basically I'm looking to strengthen whichever neck muscles my left trap is compensating for. Whether they are just weak or if I need to re-establish a neurological connection to them.

I think it's my levator scapulae mostly that have become weak and stretched since the neck stiffness runs down to the top of my scapula. I haven't found any exercises that seem like they will be effective.

________________________How did I get here, in case this information helps.

I had a job that had me standing and looking at the ground right in front of my feet constantly. Probably 4 hours of looking down a day total. Often I'd bend down to pick something up, Lots of time spent in a pike position.

Over time my entire upper back seemed to just turn off. My stabilizers got stretched and weak; and my upper traps took over stabilizing my neck.

I started having shoulder problems and neck tightness.

One day I noticed my left shoulder was noticeably higher than my right shoulder.

I recently got kind of angry and decided that I'm going to start training again, and just started with a handstand hold against the wall 3 x 1 minute. The next day I had no tightness or pain. It came back though. Cat -cow seems to help too.

I moved out of that job and things improved to a point.

Currently my neck is always stiff, back of my neck feels overworked and my left trap is always feeling overworked. Shoulders are even again. No grinding or popping. Just can't figure out how to get some muscles to turn on and others to relax.

 

Edited by Joseph Amburgey

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Alessandro Mainente
10 hours ago, Joseph Amburgey said:

Basically I'm looking to strengthen whichever neck muscles my left trap is compensating for. Whether they are just weak or if I need to re-establish a neurological connection to them.

I think it's my levator scapulae mostly that have become weak and stretched since the neck stiffness runs down to the top of my scapula. I haven't found any exercises that seem like they will be effective.

________________________How did I get here, in case this information helps.

I had a job that had me standing and looking at the ground right in front of my feet constantly. Probably 4 hours of looking down a day total. Often I'd bend down to pick something up, Lots of time spent in a pike position.

Over time my entire upper back seemed to just turn off. My stabilizers got stretched and weak; and my upper traps took over stabilizing my neck.

I started having shoulder problems and neck tightness.

One day I noticed my left shoulder was noticeably higher than my right shoulder.

I recently got kind of angry and decided that I'm going to start training again, and just started with a handstand hold against the wall 3 x 1 minute. The next day I had no tightness or pain. It came back though. Cat -cow seems to help too.

I moved out of that job and things improved to a point.

Currently my neck is always stiff, back of my neck feels overworked and my left trap is always feeling overworked. Shoulders are even again. No grinding or popping. Just can't figure out how to get some muscles to turn on and others to relax.

 

HI Joseph, i have ridden your reflections. since working in the neck is a particularly specific and critical work i need to ask you IF these reflections are PERSONAL reflections or they are a result of a functional diagnosis of a physiotherapist.

It is important before all, understanding the problem. So if you THINK that the neck muscles are the problem you need to confirm that because if they are not the problem, any more suggestion can make the situation worse.

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Joseph Amburgey

Oh certainly. That stuff slipped my mind.

 

October - Physiotherapist:

  • Came here complaining that I couldn't depress my shoulders fully. Zero neck discomfort.
  • PT pushed my top rib back down that was blocking my collarbone when I was depressing shoulders

Everything felt great and loose

October,  November - Physiotherapist:

  • Returned complaining of tightness between my shoulder and neck and my shoulder was lifted up. My shoulder did not feel stable
  • So we started neck stretches, chest stretches
  • shoulder external rotation strengthening, rhomboid strengthening. Various angles of pulling exercises
  •  all the tightness and discomfort moved into my neck; when I mentioned this, the PT said it was expected.

I still do these exercises three times a week; and everything has gotten better except my levator scapulae, and possibly my trap, but that could just be refereed discomfort from the levator. The other side of my neck is mostly great, the levator experiences discomfort, but much less of it.

 

At some point I did some leg raises on my stall bars. I didn't put a pad up behind me and a dowel was sitting right behind my neck. I did a few leg lifts and then the next day I felt some pain right where the dowel was on my neck. I think this caused me to develop arthritis. That pain is gone now and may have just been acute.

 

January -General doctor:

  • Arthritis in the neck, but it's very mild
  • I can still do Brazillian jiu jitsu as long as nobody is cranking on my neck
  • Weightlifting is okay
  • Refered me for x-rays and Orthopedist

January - Otrthopedist said:

  • According to the X-rays there is nothing structurally wrong.
  • Cervical spine is straighter than the ideal curve
  • Some arthritis has developed between some vertebrae due to the tightness
  • You can get back to weightlifting and bodyweight work
  • Says the problem is all muscular

When I asked what I can do to start working on relieving the tight muscles and get a curve back in my neck. He shrugged his shoulders. The guy was only interested in giving me a diagnosis; he wasn't interested in helping me improve the situation.

I don't know where to go anymore.

 

If anybody knows an amazing PT in Orange County, California that is ready to work with patients that are ready to work instead of patients that are ready to give up or take a pill; I would appreciate that recommendation.

 

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Alessandro Mainente
3 hours ago, Joseph Amburgey said:

Oh certainly. That stuff slipped my mind.

 

October - Physiotherapist:

  • Came here complaining that I couldn't depress my shoulders fully. Zero neck discomfort.
  • PT pushed my top rib back down that was blocking my collarbone when I was depressing shoulders

Everything felt great and loose

October,  November - Physiotherapist:

  • Returned complaining of tightness between my shoulder and neck and my shoulder was lifted up. My shoulder did not feel stable
  • So we started neck stretches, chest stretches
  • shoulder external rotation strengthening, rhomboid strengthening. Various angles of pulling exercises
  •  all the tightness and discomfort moved into my neck; when I mentioned this, the PT said it was expected.

I still do these exercises three times a week; and everything has gotten better except my levator scapulae, and possibly my trap, but that could just be refereed discomfort from the levator. The other side of my neck is mostly great, the levator experiences discomfort, but much less of it.

 

At some point I did some leg raises on my stall bars. I didn't put a pad up behind me and a dowel was sitting right behind my neck. I did a few leg lifts and then the next day I felt some pain right where the dowel was on my neck. I think this caused me to develop arthritis. That pain is gone now and may have just been acute.

 

January -General doctor:

  • Arthritis in the neck, but it's very mild
  • I can still do Brazillian jiu jitsu as long as nobody is cranking on my neck
  • Weightlifting is okay
  • Refered me for x-rays and Orthopedist

January - Otrthopedist said:

  • According to the X-rays there is nothing structurally wrong.
  • Cervical spine is straighter than the ideal curve
  • Some arthritis has developed between some vertebrae due to the tightness
  • You can get back to weightlifting and bodyweight work
  • Says the problem is all muscular

When I asked what I can do to start working on relieving the tight muscles and get a curve back in my neck. He shrugged his shoulders. The guy was only interested in giving me a diagnosis; he wasn't interested in helping me improve the situation.

I don't know where to go anymore.

 

If anybody knows an amazing PT in Orange County, California that is ready to work with patients that are ready to work instead of patients that are ready to give up or take a pill; I would appreciate that recommendation.

 

How if your general posture? kiphosis? swayback?

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Joseph Amburgey

Added some pictures. I can't see anything.

I'm relaxed aside from sucking my stomach in, in case I have some pelvic tilt.

Maybe some mild Lordosis?

IMG_20200224_163433.jpg

IMG_20200224_163432.jpg

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Alessandro Mainente

You tend to be more in lordosis, this means that all the erector spinae and traps are tighter than normal...does not mean weaker or stronger.

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Joseph Amburgey

I was unaware of the erector spinae. They seem ideally placed for my neck tightness.

Will thoracic bridge stretch series help here? Or would you suggest any stretches specifically?

Thank you Alessandro!

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Joseph Amburgey

Okay I got a chance to stretch.

Did some Erector spinae stretches, I didn't feel anything but I'm still going to keep doing them.

Then did some trap warmups

Then rolled a lacross ball into both sides into a wall like this video. Immediately my neck is loose and comfortable!!!

The biggest smile is on my face right now! I even feel more confident moving my shoulder around!

About 5 minutes later, it's getting a little stiff again.

So I think I'll be doing this warmup and stretch first thing in the morning; as soon as I get home from work, or the beginning of my workout and before going to bed.

If you have any suggestions or modifications to what I should do moving forward I would appreciate them Alesssandro.

Thank you again! It drives me crazy that PTs and other doctors couldn't figure this one out. Drives me nuts I overlooked my traps.

I think I'll drop all my foundation courses back to the first exercises and work back up since I've not done any of it for about 6 months. So excited to get back after it.

 

 

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