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Nik Balogh: Frontal Neck Release, Easy and Effective Relief

Trigger points in the two main muscles of the front of the neck can make more trouble than you can imagine! Including exasperating Bell's Palsy symptoms.


The sternocleidomastoid (SCM), and the scalene muscles, can be responsible for headaches, jaw pain, arm and hand pain, hypersensitive teeth, stiff neck, chronic cough, pain and stuffiness in the ears. They can cause balance problems blur your vision, make your lips numb, your tongue hurt, or cause an eyelid to droop.


The neck contains arteries, nerves, and other structures that are vital for survival. It is the most flexible part of the spine. The neck also acts as a conduit for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body. So when the muscles are short and tight they can affect that communication.


The good news is that once you understand that your symptoms can be coming from short, tight and triggered SCM and scalene muscles, the solution is remarkably simple and easy to do.


 

Muscles of the Front of the Neck


Lets have a closer look at the Sternocleidomastoid and the Scalenes and the referred pain or issues that trigger points in these muscles can cause.



Sternocleidomastoid trigger points can cause pain in the the muscle itself and be mistaken for swollen glands. They can be a source of neck stiffness that keeps your head tilted to one side. A frontal headache is a signature of SCM trigger points.


Trigger points in the sternal branch (larger front portion) can cause deep eye pain, headaches over the eye, behind the ear, and the top of the head. They can contribute to TMJ pain and visual disturbances. They can cause dimmed, blurred, or double vision, reddening and excessive tearing of the eyes and even a runny nose. They can also cause drooping of the eyelid. They can cause sinus congestion, sinus drainage, phlegm in the throat, chronic cough and continual hay fever or cold symptoms too!

Trigger points in the clavicular branch (smaller portion behind), can cause deep earache or toothache in the back molars. A frontal headache can be cross referred to the opposite side of the forehead. They can make you dizzy, nauseous and prone to lurching or falling. They can even cause hearing loss by inhibiting vibration in the inner ear.



Scalene trigger points cause an impressively

wide distribution of pain, numbness and other sensations in the chest, upper back, shoulder, arm and hand.

Pain is hardly ever felt in the scalenes themselves but can be the primary source of pain in their referral areas. Restlessness in the neck and shoulder is a classic sign of scalene trigger points.

Trigger points here shorten the muscles and tend to keep the 1st rib pulled up against the collarbone, squeezing blood vessels and nerves that pass through the area on the way to the arm. This entrapment can cause pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, and/or burning in the arm and hand. Scalene induced weakness in the forearms and hands can make you drop things unexpectedly.


The illustrations are from the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies, and is an excellent resource I have been using for around 20 years to augment my yoga classes.


Causes


Over time, forward head posture can lead to muscle imbalances as the body tries to adapt and find efficient ways to hold the head up for straight-ahead vision. Some muscles become elongated and weakened, whereas other muscles become shorter and tighter.


A primary function of the SCM is to turn the head and maintain a stable position during movements of the body. Holding the head in any position for a length of time, forward, back (working overhead), turned to one side while working.. will cause trouble.

Heavy lifting, falls and whiplash accidents can strain the SCM.

Other conditions that encourage trigger points in the SCM are a tight collar, a short leg, a curvature of the spine, emphysema, asthma, a chronic cough, hyperventilation, emotional stress, and habitual muscle tension.


Although the scalene muscles help stabilize and flex the neck, their main job is to raise the upper two ribs on each side when you inhale. They are active to some degree in every inhalation and they work extremely hard when your breathing is laboured during vigorous activity.

Habitually breathing with the chest instead of the diaphragm severely taxes the scalene muscles. Simple nervous hyperventilation taxes them too. If you are prone to emotional tension then expect to find trigger points in your scalenes. The struggle for breath in people who suffer from asthma, emphysema, and bad coughs from pneumonia, bronchitis, allergies etc. commonly foster scalene trouble.

Working for long periods of time with the arms forward, pulling, lifting, and carrying heavy loads can strain the scalenes as well. Even carrying a heavy backpack!

Any violent movement of the head during a fall or accident bring about trigger points in the scalenes.

Scalene muscles help manage the weight of the head. Anything that creates imbalance puts an additional burden on them.


And if you have suffered from Bell's palsy and the 7th cranial nerve ceases functioning, it ceases innervating muscles in the neck as well. This causes imbalances that need to be corrected. Especially if you have experienced long standing facial pasly. The neck is the foundation for the face.



Treatment


Learning to breathe with your diaphragm, not with your chest simply means being aware of inviting the breath to move your belly.

Being aware of posture that may be holding your head off centre, will go a long way in prevented unnecessary stress on the muscles of the front of the neck.

Proper posture while lifting or carrying will prevent strain on these muscles.


The following 15-minute practice guides you through the kindest way of massaging tension, tightness and trigger points using a dense 4inch foam ball that can be easily found at most discount stores. You will also need a yoga block or a stack of books to work on.


Practice this regularly until your symptoms ease. Then once a week or whatever you find is needed for maintenance.

If you experience soreness the next day, ice to sooth and wait until they are calm before massaging again.


If you are recovering from Bell's Palsy I offer extensive information, self treatment videos and mentoring. https://www.nikbalogh.com/bellspalsy

I also offer trigger point therapy videos for the most common areas of pain and stiffness in the body here: https://www.nikbalogh.com/therapy-ball-massage

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