In this Pilates mornings class we practiced side lying legwork using the Pilates Circle/Ring. Both clients said their neck hurt after just a couple of repetitions.
Why would the neck feel pain when we are actually working the leg?
We all have an amazing back muscle called the Quadrates Lumborum ( to me it always sounds like the name of a Bond villain) on each side of the spine, that allows us to side bend extend and rotate, when it isn’t functioning well, the brain has to find stability somewhere else. So, in this case, the neck wasnt the issue, it was one of the back muscles.
It was in a different place in the neck in each client, but a simple 30 second massage on the tight neck muscle activated the weaker back muscle. Stabilising the position became a lot easier as the neck wasn’t having to do all of the work.
The above picture of your side/lateral line show the line starts in the foot, so any lateral ankle sprains can also affect the back and the lateral neck as the body loses stability, it has to find it elsewhere.
Interesting …if you are a geek like me that is…
Thanks to this mornings Pilates girls for being amazing!
Homework to correct this would be to gently and slowly release the tight neck area that was compensating, followed by a few reps of a standing side bend, bending towards the same side as the released neck.
Level 3 Pilates Instructor
Lev II NKT therapist.
Appointments from my home studio in Portreath, North Cornwall, UK.
Mel Collie | Is your neck stronger than your core?
Core exercises are all the rage and have been for years, they’ve been embedded into our heads from fitness classes, magazine articles and celebrities shouting that you should all the doing core strength exercises, however.. if you are, and seeing minimal results, why is that and what can you do about it…?
Do a core exercise you are familiar with.
Now do it again and be aware of the following – clenched jaw, tilted head position, lifted shoulders, tight diaphragm, clenched toes.
Why those in particular? Well, these are a few compensatory ways of using what we believe is our “core” when in fact, the connection between brain and “core” isn’t as strong as we believe.
It takes a brave person to admit they have a weak core, I see it a lot os weak “core” muscles in my NKT sessions.
If you aren’t stable in your centre, the extremities will take up the slack, you will experience tightness in arms, legs, jaw, neck, pelvic floor or diaphragm.
A simple example :
Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Now lift both arms up to the ceiling, palms facing each other.
Now lift your feet, knees stay bent at 90 degrees, so the knee line is above the hip bones.
Exhale as you, slowly lower the right leg towards the floor(leg can stay bent or straight, depends on your current level of core connection) and the left arm back
Keep the arm straight, keep the knee bent.
Inhale come back with arm and leg.
Change sides as repeat.
Compensation points to check:
Chin lifts as your head drops back
Toes lifting or clawing at the ground
Pelvic floor clenching
It doesn’t have to be a check list of all of these, but it could be one or two that you may notice.
Work on correcting those and your core exercises will take off.
Stick with the compensation patterns and they will get stronger, not your core.
How can you tell? Get assessed by an NeuroKinetic Therapist (NKT) or have your compensation check list as listed above and listen your brain.
Be your brain. Where does your brain go to when the core isn’t connecting.
Bunions, or Hallus Valgus to you and me though..! Hallux means big toe , its often believed to be the case for Bunions that the big toe moves laterally when pressure applied from the side, so when ill fitting shoes are worn or shoes are worn too early from childhood.
Anyway, many of you have them..and many of you don’t like them, they change the shape of the shoes you are wearing, shoes don’t fit properly and you don’t really want an operation because it doesn’t change the foot mechanics, just removes the callous/bunion, and so they will come back if you foot mechanics don’t change. There photos are of my mums bunions, she had both of them operated on about 20 years ago now, they both came back, because her gait wasn’t assessed , she continued to walk the same way, she pronates, those bunions re appeared…thats normal, the brain just doing what its used to doing, an operation may not change that unless to show it a different way.
So, I used NKT on my mums foot
Two half hour sessions over the space of 3 days
An here was the result, a straighter big toe, which will help her use the inside line of that led more when she walks , which helps the glutes work better to help the hip extend as she walks, which helps the rotation of the ribs and the shoulders move well, which helps reduce tightness in the shoulder and neck. All of that in just 2 sessions, goes to show what can be achieved in 4 sessions, which we didn’t have time for as she was here on her holidays…time went by too fast!
Assessments for your gait and bunion treatment can be booked here by emailing me:
Call 07800 797300
4 x 30 minute bunion specific treatment sessions – £120
(course must be taken over the space of 4 weeks and from my home clinic in Portreath, North Cornwall)
Includes posture assessment and videos to follow on home treatment for continued success.
Call now to book your feet in and start correcting your gait patterning and foot function.
Changes that last and that reduce pain and tight muscles?
Change that reduces tight hamstrings, weak glutes and tight shoulders?
Before you think ‘Ive lost it and 7 days isn’t long enough, then you are right..it isn’t! However, I love to prove you wrong, but I’m not out to to impress you, Im just simply looking for a way that works, that constantly proves its assessments are thorough, and hat doesn’t leave me hunting or guessing.
So, to test my theory, to see if what I have learned was going to work, I needed to test it on real people. Is that illegal in some countries? Maybe!
Anyway, I posted in a local Facebook group(its great for somethings!) for someone who had SI Joint pain, and this lady stepped up. With pain in her SI joint (sacro-iliac), that was my focus in the first sessions.
She is dedicated and did her daily homework, which didn’t take more than 5 mins a day.
She came back in the second week as a follow up, so I could check her homework and she could give me an update.
Those follow up appointment are crucial, the body works in patterns, unravelling the main one can uncover others..and that showed in this second appointment.
A further posture check to see what, if anything, had changed
And rather than guessing at what needs stretching because its tight, I used NKT protocols.
As a pattern detective in training, I assessed her movement patterns.
That means checking how effective was her hip flexion, knee flexion, arm flexion. What pattern does her brain have in its software to use these movements?
A chat about her history gave me a few clues, checking her posture assessment gave me more clues, and checking her organised and disorganised muscles gave me other clues.
I felt like a proper Poirot!
Assess, I don’t guess.
You are unique
Just because you have SI joint pain doesn’t mean the painful area needs stretching.
Just because you have tight neck doesn’t mean it needs stretching. You could be stretching a muscle thats exhausted , has been hanging on for so long its knackered and is telling you its had enough, its pissed off, it wants you to get those other muscles working pretty quick.
Which muscles to test though?
We looked at her right shoulder which was rolling inwards from a tight pec minor. When thats pulling forward then something in the back changes.
After testing a few muscles, her mid and upper Trapezius muscle turned out to be a little bit unorganised, as well as her Latissimus Dorsi.
The tests don’t take long, checking the work and being thorough means you do take time though to ensure that the pattern you have found holds.
Thats the fun of being a pattern detective..
Before and After photos in just 7 days, yep, we’ve still got work to do on that hip. Homework in her second week is for glutes, psoas and trapezius. Why those? Because they all showed up as being disorganised by testing patterns.
Its not nice when you get back pain, it can really take over your life and be so debilitating.
Its also not nice to be told that the reason your back hurts could be that your core isn’t stabilising, its not switching on quick enough to be able to do its job.
You find other ways
The main way, I’ve found through doing some pattern testing on some willing volunteers, is holding the breath
We then find that the back holds, but at the costs of compensating through the diaphragm and the hip flexor- Psoas – as it has fibres that connect to the diaphragm.Then these get tired, and complain.
Those complaints are felt as pain. So pain is a friend, sometimes, its knocking on your door, telling you to do something about your cheating core.
Is breathing important?
You betcha back pain it is!
Breathe well and you’ve got great core ability, great connection with your abs and Psoas.
I do a simple Psoas test, Transversus and Rectus Abs test, to see if its your breath holding is compensating for your lower back.
It’s one of my favourite pattern detective tests.
I’m now onto the hands and fingers…these I find complicated, interesting though, because as we spend more time on mobiles, laptops and computers, we spend more time with bent fingers, so the flexion muscles of the fingers become more hypertonic, and the extension muscles become sub optimal.
Testing each finger on an extension against a low pressure from my own hands, reveals which fingers are the weakest, on an extension pattern.
We may also see compensation in the breath , holding it to stabilise, also in the shoulder lifting , which creates tightness in the upper Trapezius and Scalene muscles, and if both scalene muscles are tight, this can be lead back to the core again, as a de stabilised core can lead to stabilisation in the neck, on both sides.
So, for all you texting bunnies out there, those finger tests are very revealing!
Texting is a repetitive movement, as is tapping your keyboard, that repetitive movement has to show up somewhere along the pattern of movement , and if you see the fascia picture of the arm lines, you can follow the line back to the upper skeletal frame.
Pain usually is the site of a tight , hypertonic muscle, doesn’t mean is weak, it can be strong, thats the beauty of the patterning tests, to see if the muscles are weak or strong, which ones are working and which ones aren’t, so when you do homework your doing the right home exercises that release the tight first, but strengthen the weaker ones second.
Trick is knowing which muscles are doing what, without assessing, you are , well, guessing I suppose.
Assessing can take a couple of hours, thats why your first appointment asks that you allow 120 minutes, to help take time to reveal the story your body is telling.
This photo is of the Arm Anatomy Trains . If you google Thomas Myers, Anatomy Trains, you will come up with a load of great stuff, his videos on fascia dissection are very interesting, just don’t watch them whilst eating your dinner….