Stretching the neck

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    In the last half of video session #2 (“Moving the Shoulders Vertically and Stretching the Neck”) in Level #1, Dr. Frantzis speaks of stretching the neck in a way that I don’t understand. He says: “When you lift your shoulders you want to feel it stretching the muscles on the side of your neck… your shoulders raising stretching the muscles on the side of your neck.” And with his hands and words indicates that this stretch should be felt extending not only to the top of the neck but even beyond that up the skull.

    Let’s leave the issue of the skull aside for now, and just focus on the neck.

    Not only do I not feel this–neither internally, nor externally (using my fingers to feel my neck muscles), rather I feel my neck muscles contracting rather than stretching when I raise my shoulders. Also, I know from doing dumbbell shrugs in the gym, I am strengthening and growing my trapezius neck muscles by doing such shrugs, which means that I am contracting them to raise my shoulders and the dumbbells. It seems to me that if I am lifting my shoulders then any resulting change of muscle length above my shoulders should involve shortening, not stretching. It is the muscles below the shoulders that I expect may stretch when I raise my shoulders.

    So what is it that would anatomically bring about any of my neck muscles stretching as a result of me raising my shoulders, and how do I set about feeling the stretch (which I currently do not)?



    Hi Mark
    I don’t know how it works but the best way to set about feeling the stretch is to practice.
    Don’t beat yourself up for having a tough time of it, as Bruce says, it’s easy when you can and hard when you can’t.
    Just keep practicing and you’ll get there.



    Hi Mark,

    I think I understand what you are asking. I used to feel the same relationship until I viewed how the body is actually put together. Looking at an anatomy diagram of the area that you are interested in can help since it may show you that in your mind, the muscles, ligaments, bones etc. are mis-mapped.

    In my years of weightlifting, the muscle development and enervation was such that the trap and the neck were almost a single slab of muscle, moving as a single unit, when they obviously are not. As I was able to free my shoulder blades more (and the sternoclavicular joints around the front), I recognized that through that movement, I was able to move everything below my neck without actually contracting or feeling any discomfort in my neck. As your shoulder blades continue to free, you may begin to notice just how much room there is in the area of the traps, upper chest and base of the neck. This space will be felt as fascia and muscles release more. When this happens, moving the shoulder blades up will have an almost counter balancing movement of the neck stretching downward. It sounds weird, and feels awkward at first, but eventually, it feels very natural.

    One of the things that helped me a lot with this was to begin to view my skeleton as its own source of movement, instead of the muscles moving the bones. This intention helped carry out movements with less effort, more grace and relaxed muscles. In other words, the fascia is more utilized.

    More simply, intend your movements to be done with the most minimal amount of effort. See if you can make very gentle movements from your shoulder blades without engaging your neck muscles, as Dr. Frantzis suggests. Have patience with it and you will see a difference.

    Hope that helps.




    Hello all:
    One thing I noticed in practice from session 2…I am somewhat stoop-shouldered. In practicing from my “natural” posture, I do not feel anything happening in my neck. From what I have been told is a normal posture, I feel slight movement in the neck. And, when I am in an exaggerated posture (shoulders back) I can definitely feel the neck muscles.
    How important is posture in getting the maximum benefit from this exercise?



    Hi Marty
    I’d say do what feels natural within your 70%.
    Just because you don’t feel the stretch immediately doesn’t mean you won’t if you keep practicing.

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