With the holiday season, comes a whole new genre of injuries: Holiday Injuries. Some we don’t really see in this part of the country like slipping on ice or getting hit in the face with a snowball; others tend to cross all geographical boundaries such as neck pain with wrapping gifts. Have you ever been wrapping gifts and noticed a sharp pain in your neck and/or shoulder blades? This is actually a very common complaint among people who spend a long period of time performing activities in this position of looking down and working with their hands and is commonly caused by strain on the muscles of the neck and upper back. There are 2 main ways of relieving this pain: 1) by improving your posture and 2) with gentle activation of the muscles in your upper back.
Rounded shoulders - when your shoulders slouch forward. This can place excessive pressure on the muscles and joints of your upper back.
Forward head - when your head leans forward like you're trying to get a closer look at something. This can place excessive pressure on the muscles and joints of your neck.
Tip - try having all of your wrapping materials and gifts on a table at around chest height to help avoid extreme postures.
Scapular Retractions - sit tall with good posture and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Sometimes it helps to bring your elbows backward and attempt to squeeze them together behind your back.
Tip - I would recommend performing these as you wrap whenever you begin to experience pain. This way it will not only activate your postural stabilizing muscles but also give you rest from staying in the same position.
If these tips don’t curb your symptoms, or if you are having more intense pain or a significant amount of radiating pain/numbness into your arms or shoulder blade area, I would recommend seeing a Physical Therapist. These symptoms can be indicative of a larger problem that can be treated more easily and efficiently if you get into a clinic when they first start, and good news: with the newly acquired Direct Access to Physical Therapy in our state you no longer need a referral for Physical Therapy. Now you can simply make an appointment with your physical therapist and get into the clinic ASAP!