Cervical disc pain in the C4 C5 C6 C7 region can result in herniation or degeneration of the cervical discs. One frequently overlooked reason for C4 C5 C6 C7 chronic neck pain is tightness in the shoulder and chest region. The cause of degenerative or herniated cervical spine disease is primarily muscular tightness. By fully lengthening the muscles that attach to or surround the neck, herniated or degenerated cervical discs will be allowed to heal. Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) is the specialized treatment for C4 C5 C6 C7 chronic neck pain.
Relevance of chest, arm, and shoulder muscle tightness in chronic neck pain
A large percentage of cervical pain cases involve tightness in the upper body, including the shoulders, chest, and upper back. Its even possible to have chronic neck pain with all muscular dysfunction coming from the chest and shoulders; and very little tightness in the neck muscles. The neck rests on the shoulders, chest, and upper back. If the upper body is tight, more pressure is placed on the neck muscles and the cervical discs. Effective treatment for chronic neck pain should begin with opening up the muscles of the chest and shoulders before addressing the neck muscles. Similarly, any self-stretching routine for the neck has to start with stretching of the chest and shoulders muscles. If you start by stretching the neck, the pain will quickly return because the support structure of the neck is not being addressed.
Tips for chronic neck pain
The majority of people sleep on their side. This pushes the shoulder into the shoulder socket, which decreases range of motion in the shoulder joint. The neck muscles run from the skull to the shoulder. So sleeping on the side not only causes inflexibility in the shoulder but also stiffens neck muscles. The best position to sleep is on the back, with the knees and ankles elevated. Put one pillow (the long way) under each leg.
Many people find it difficult to sleep on their back. Developing upper back muscles will provide more mass to the back and make sleeping on the back easier, as the back feels more support. The seated row weight machine at the gym is a good way to start developing the upper back. Using a rowing machine is another good exercise to develop upper back muscles.
Key muscles involved in C4 C5 C6 C7 cervical neck pain
The primary causes of cervical disc disease are weakness or tightness of the upper body muscles. Poor posture creates tightness in the neck muscles. Two key neck muscles that affect herniation or degeneration in C4, C5, C6, or C7, are the sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles. The sternocleidomastoid muscle runs from the front of the chest to the jawline. Tightness in the sternocleidomastoid will cause a forward jutting of the head and neck. The further the head juts ahead of the chest, the more strain is placed on the muscles at the back of the neck. The scalene muscles run along the side of of the neck. They attach to cervical discs C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, and C7; and they attach to the collarbone/shoulder area. When either the sternocleidomastoid or scalene muscles get tight, they create pressure on the cervical discs. Muscles attach to bones. Tightness in the sternocleidomastoid or scalene muscles can cause the cervical discs to bulge, herniate, or degenerate. Proper elongation of the sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles can allow the cervical discs to return inside the spinal column.
The two mentioned neck muscles illustrate my previous point of how lengthening muscles of the upper body facilitates recovery from cervical spine disorders. Muscles work in groups. The sternocleidomastoid muscles lies above the chest muscles. And the scalene muscles lie above the shoulder. If the pectoral (chest) muscles are tight, they are collapsing inward. The sternocleidomastoid neck muscle will follow in the same direction as the chest muscles. Creating a forward pull of the head and neck. Similarly, tight shoulders lurch forward, carrying the head with it. The objective in Active Isolated Stretching is to get the shoulders back; before lengthening the scalene muscles of the neck.
The AIS difference
Stretching has rarely been credited for resolving chronic neck pain. And this is where is must be clarified that Active Isolated Stretching is different than any other type of stretching; whether it is PNF stretching, Thai massage, yoga, or the stretching that we learned in the seventh grade. These forms of stretching cannot repair a cervical herniation or degeneration in C4 C5 C6 C7; Active Isolated Stretching can. One, two, or three neck stretches does not heal a cervical spine disorder. A thorough neck routine in Active Isolated Stretching involves over thirty-eight different upper body movements. Detailed treatment, done correctly, to the upper body allows for long term benefits to the cervical spine.
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