Protracted shoulders and head . . continue
Ok. First a description.
The shoulders are pulled forward, in the extreme version, it's as if the front of the shoulders/chest region make a sort of C shape. To demonstrate the extreme version on yourself, flex your pecs as hard as you can while leaving your arms at your side, OR reach your hands out in front of you as far as you can without leaning over at the waist.
Wel, the word protracted essentially means forward. So a protracted head means that your head is forward, instead of straight above your cervical spine. A rule of thumb (I doubt it's exact, but it makes a good point) is that for every inch forward your head is, the weight on your neck doubles. So you can imagine the kind of stress that this can place on your neck.
These two distortions often occur together, and often also involve elevated shoulders as well, causing tight upper traps.
The problems caused:
Protracted head and shoulders causes pain the upper traps and neck due the stress placed there. A lot of people who sit at a desk all day suffer this distortion, so it's no wonder you hear so often about people complaining that their necks and shoulders hurt. The tight pecs reciprocally inhibit (weaken) the scapular retractors (middle and lower traps, rhomboids) between the shoulder blades, so any time you have to bear weight there (which can be often, because this distortion often causes a person to lean forward somewhat), the weakened muscles ache.
Protracted shoulders are caused by tight pecs and anterior deltoids. Often, but not always, the lats are tight also. This can be checked by gauging the internal rotation (thumbs turning inward) of the arm. The loose muscles are primarily the scapular retractors, and to some degree the posterior deltoids.
Protracted head is caused by tight sternocleidomastoids (thick ropy muscles in the front of the neck) and cervical extensors (back of the neck). Loose muscles are the cervical flexors (deep in the front of the neck).
As I've described in other threads, first and foremost is to train yourself to always maintain proper posture, regardless of whether you're standing, sitting, laying, kneeling, fucking, whatever.
Static stretching of the tight muscles I've mentioned. Hold each stretch for 20-40 seconds, 2-3 sets. Try to stretch 2-3 times a day.
If you need me to go into details on specific stretches, I'll be happy to, just ask.
I see a lot of details on the prognosis, but I'm not clear on exactly what stretches you think are good for this.
How about you layout a more details on the stretches you recommend?
What do you think of bridging?
A good stretch for the pecs:
Hold your arms out to the side, elbows at a 90 degree angle, fingers pointing up (like you were doing a butterfly machine at the gym). Put your elbows / forearms against a door frame. Use the door frame to hold your arms back while you stretch the pecs. This will also help stretch your anterior delts. Do it with the thumbs back (blade of the hand on the door frame) to get a bit of stretch in the lats too).
For the upper traps:
This one's pretty simple. To stretch the left side, move your head down to the right side, like you're trying to put your right ear on your right shoulder. Don't raise your right shoulder to meet your head. To stretch the right side, same thing on the other side.
For the sternocleidomastoid and cervical extensors:
Keeping your chin DOWN, put your fingers on your chin and push your head back. It is important to keep your chin down.
As always, when stretching, keep good posture, and keep your abdomen drawn in. It's more important to maintain good posture than to get a larger range of motion.
Hold each stretch for 20-60 seconds, 2-3 sets each side, 2-3 times daily.
As far as the bridge is concerned, which type are you talking about? Wrestler's bridge with forehead on the ground? Top of the head on the ground? Or are you talking about a stability bridge?
I think he's talking about a wrestler's bridge (all the weight on the neck, either forehead or crown of the head). That would be my question.
We discussed it outside of the forum. I kind of like doing different bridges, TBM's opinion seemed to be that bridging might be good, but you better work on your posture either way.
I've been hearing that bridging on your neck can actually **** it up pretty badly? No?
Read up on the Alexander technique, and maybe Qigong or something relaxing to release the tension.
my opinion of the wrestler's bridge was this:
I used to do it a fair amount, and the only problem I ever had was that if I stopped doing it, I would have neck pains (pretty bad) for about a week. But I also never saw any significant benefits either. And with all that weight on your head and neck, IF you were to slip and fall to the side, you could easily snap your neck and end your MA career or life. I don't do the bridge that way anymore, in my opinion it's just not worth it. No measurable benefits and possible (although perhaps unlikely) serious risks.
I recommended doing stability bridges instead. They do a lot more work for your core, and if you fall over, you don't kill yourself.
I've also heard of people damaging their necks doing them. In my experience, like I said, the only downside I had was occasional neck pain if I stopped doing them, and one time I slipped a little bit (didn't even tip over, just turned my head a bit), and my neck was tweaked for 3 weeks. So I can't speak authoritatively on long term damage or anything. But again, not worth it IMHO.
Stability bridges? Did I miss something?
Is that a head-shoulder bridge, or just across the shoulders?
Stability bridge is your head and shoulders on the ground, arms at side (can be crossed over your chest as a progression)... feet near your buttocks. Squeeze your glutes together and contract your core, pushing your hips up as high as possible.
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