Upper Body Pain or Problems, Look Below for Answers….
One in four people suffer from neck and shoulder pain (Leijon, et. Al., 2009) which affects their ability to perform everyday activities. There will also be limitations to physical activity capabilities. Most people will seek help from a physiotherapist, chiropractor or other allied health professionals to alleviate their pain. It’s after this treatment has improved symptoms that we are going to focus on an action plan today.
There are a lot of people who return to exercise sessions only to experience recurrence of the initial problem. Some factors which are involved are: moving from the controlled environment of the physio/chiro care and training into fitness/personal training classes that are challenging the body through multiple planes of movement (which is a good thing and you do need to do it, but you may need to work up to it first) which places a large amount of stress on the musculoskeletal system (Price & Baratcher, 2010). If one part of the body is out of alignment when the entire body is being stressed, compensations can occur. This can cause further imbalances, restrictions and pain in the system.
So what to do about this problem? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? (Think lack of exercise, weight gain, loss of muscle strength, no stimulation of your bones perhaps leading to osteoporosis, loss of flexibility and mobility, unable to do daily physical tasks).
Well there is a lot of research and anecdotal evidence that suggests that the alignment of your pelvis, hips and base of the spine can cause further effects for both the bony structures and muscles of the upper torso as well as the vestibular system which helps to keep the head aligned over the centre of the pelvis when walking or engaged in other activities.
There is a simple test where you can identify alignment issues. You may need help from another person to complete this test. Stand in front of a mirror with your helper behind you. Get them to make a pistol shape with their index fingers and thumbs with the thumbs pointing towards the roof. They will place their index fingers on the back of your hips where your pants would sit. Then simply balance a dowel rod across the top of the index fingers. Look in the mirror to notice if the rod is horizontal. If it is then the pelvis is level. If it isn’t level, then the pelvis and the lumbo-pelvic hip girdle is not level or aligned. If this is the case you should consider seeing your preferred practitioner for helping to regain alignment.
Once you are on the right track to regaining your alignment there are corrective exercise strategies which you can undertake at home on a daily basis to help maintain and improve your alignment. These include myofascial self-release techniques, stretching and strengthening of tight and weak components. These exercises need to be selected and taught to you by your practitioner or by a qualified personal trainer or exercise physiologist who is experienced in corrective exercise.
By working on yourself on a regular basis in this manner you will help to correct deficiencies which are causing pain further up your spine or in your neck. You will improve your biomechanical function which will allow you to do more physical movement. Which will enable you to build strength, mobility and fitness to help maintain and improve your quality of life.
Ideas and information for this article were sourced from “Injury & Rehab: hips don’t lie…” by Justin Price, Network Magazine, summer 2015 edition, by the Australian Fitness Network.