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Neck Pain and the Brain (3 Exercises To Do Daily)

Video Highlights

-- About Neck Pain
-- Motor Control Work
-- Learning how to do 3 major planes

Hi, I’m Dr. Eric Cobb from Z-Health Performance and today we’re going to be talking about the neck.  If you are new to Z-Health, we’re a brain-based education company.  We specialize in working with doctors, therapists, and coaches around the world; so if you enjoy this subscribe to the channel and check out our free resources. 

Alright, the neck: often people complain of neck stiffness, neck tightness, neck pain, etc., and the focus becomes on stretching 20 seconds, 30 seconds, flexibility work or general mobility work, moving around. Those are great, those are useful but in some cases they are insufficient because if you do things too quickly or you do everything statically.  What is not happening, in many cases, is your brain is not learning to control the musculature of your neck. Wo often what we like to focus on, instead of just basic mobility exercises or stretching, is a precise type of approach that we like to call: Motor Control Work. Now the easiest way to do this is to learn it with a pencil or an imaginary pencil or pen. Because what we want to do is, we want to focus on doing very small, subtle circles and movements in kind of three major planes that we typically discuss when we’re talking about the human body. So for our first exercise you’re going to take a pencil or pen and you’re going to put it in your mouth or you’re going to imagine that you have one. Then you’re going to stand in your typical posture, whatever that may be, and the job now is to draw a circle on the wall in front of you. So that means that you’re going to have to move your neck in such a way that the pencil or pen goes up, and then it’s going to go to the side, and then it’s going to go down, and then to the opposite side, and then back up. So we’re basically going to be creating a circle in the plane of our shoulders. So it’s a circle like this. It’s kind of a very strange feeling at first, for a lot of people but it is a very, very critical drill because it’s going to work on lengthening the spine moving it to the side, returning it, and just gaining control in that particular plane. When you first do this you’re going to probably move your body a lot, use your shoulders a lot. Over time, that should improve as your coordination grows. Don’t get frustrated about it and just see where you’re at and work on improving it 30 seconds to a minute at a time. Not a big deal, you just have to kind of accept where you are and understand that there are going to be progressions as you move through this. 

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So after we’ve drawn our circle on the wall in front of us we now want to draw a circle on the wall beside it. So for this image, you’re going to imagine that the pencil or pen sticking in your ear and you’re now going to think about, “alright, how am I going to draw a circle over there?” So once again I’m going to have to stretch my neck up. So I’m going to have to lift the pencil or pen up, I’m going to have to go a little bit forward, move it down, move it back and back up again. So we’re now doing a circle with a neck that’s moving forward and back and in each case we want to go in each direction. 

So we’ve done a circle in the plane of the shoulders, we’ve now done a circle going forward and back, now we’re going to imagine that the pencil or pen is on top of the head and we’re going to draw a circle in the ceiling. So for this one, obviously we’re going to have to drive the neck forward to the side pull it back and into the opposite side. So now we’re doing more like what a you might see a boxer or martial artist do with a head and neck. These are very, very kind of common motions that you’ll see. They are again all somewhat complicated because they require you to coordinate muscles that you probably haven’t been working on but they are extremely valuable for regaining control of your body.

When it comes to dealing with flexibility issues, pain issues, movement issues, nothing substitutes well for being able to control your whole body and have it do what you want it to do in a safe manner. So these are great exercises, as I said whenever you do them don’t exhaust yourself. Don’t worry in the beginning if you’re using a lot of body movements. Just over time, make them more subtle, more precise, and more controlled and you’ll reap a ton of benefits from it. Alright, enjoy let us know what you think in the comments. Thanks!

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