Helpful stretches for
neck pain or headaches:
This one is for the upper trapezius
It stretches the muscles that shrug the shoulders. On the side you wish to stretch, place your arm behind your back. Tilt your head to the opposite side, and use your opposite arm to GENTLY assist with the stretch. The weight of your arm on your head should create enough pull. Hold 30 seconds.
This one is for the “Levator,”
a muscle that attaches the shoulder blade to the neck.
Perform this stretch as the one above, except you should turn your head toward the opposite arm pit for the stretch. Hold 30 seconds.
Here is another activity you can try:
Note the man above moves from a head forward position to a chin tuck position. Perform this chin tuck, and then rotate your head as far as you can, first to one side, and then to the other. Hold 3 seconds at each side.
Now tilt your chin down toward the shoulder and hold 3 seconds.
You can repeat this stretch to the other side.
Another option for increasing motion of the neck is to begin with the chin tuck, and as you turn your head see-saw your chin up and down until you reach as much rotation as you are able. End with the chin down toward the armpit.
World’s BEST Assistive Device
In Physical Therapy, we call canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and crutches assistive devices.
Following is a real-life assistive device I saw someone on at the Defiance County Fair in Hicksville, Ohio. This is a true story. Hicksville is my hometown, and I love the people. So as a native, I can laugh at this home-spun device to help an injured person enjoy the fair! I wanted to catch the passenger on the device, but by the time I got out my camera, the device was parked at the show arena for the pedal tractor pull.
Note the appliance cart, the kitchen chair seat, the rigged leg rest, and the convenient crutch storage compartment! Ingenious!!
This Mexican Lasagna is on “the good list” which means everyone in the family likes it. And, it is Gluten-Free!
18-6 inch all corn tortillas
2-10 oz cans enchilada sauce
1-16 oz can refried beans
1# ground beef, browned and drained
1 c water
1 t cumin
1 t cayenne pepper
1/4 c fresh cilantro, finely minced
1/2 t black pepper
4 c shredded cheddar cheese
Add water and spices to ground beef in skillet and heat until water is evaporated.
In a 9×13 baking dish spread 1/3 of a can of enchilada sauce over the bottom.
Layer 6 of the tortillas, followed by 1/2 of the ground beef and spices, and 1/2 of the refried beans. Cover with the rest of the first can of sauce, and then 1/2 the cheese.
Next layer 6 more tortillas, meat mix, beans, and 1/2 the second can of sauce.
Finally, layer the last 6 tortillas, the last of the sauce, and the other half of the cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes or until hot.
Here are some common exercises I teach for upper trunk stability:
Stick Up: Stand with your back to the wall and try to hold your shoulder blades flat against the wall throughout this activity. Bend elbows and put hands into the air as if someone told you, “This is stick up!” While keeping your shoulder blades flat against the wall, slowly raise arms overhead, then back down again. Repeat x 15.
With your back against the wall, and feet out 12″ from the wall, pull theraband at diagonals back all the way to touch the wall with top and bottom arm. Keep your arms straight throughout the exercise. If you bend the elbows, you will work the wrong muscles! Complete 15 reps in each direction.
Following are some general balance exercises:
These are fairly high level; not for the frail!
Seated: on a ball marching, or marching with arm movement.
Standing: Try heel to toe as shown. Try each foot in front. Try to hold it 30 seconds.
Above are several examples of balance challenges on an unusual surface. This builds stability in the lower leg, and balance reactions.
The above is called “limits of stability” Stand with your back to the corner, and a solid object you can grab in front of you. Keeping feet in place, slowly sway forward as far and you can while keeping your balance. Then sway backward as far as you can. The object is to challenge your lower legs to maintain your balance without moving your feet as your body moves.
The following are advanced vestibular exercises:
Walking with head turning: Walk in a straight line turning your head from one side to the other every four steps. As this gets easier, try turning every three steps, then every other step.
Hang a visually confusing piece of fabric on the wall (small checkerboard works quite well) and place a card in the middle of the fabric. Stand about 18 inches away from the card, focus on one letter, and begin to shake your head back and forth as if saying, “no.” This is a progression of the VOR exercises in the post entitled “Vestibular Rehab Exercises.”
To advance the exercises even more, stand on an unstable surface, such as a cushion or rocker board:
For those who struggle with ongoing positional vertigo, even after an Epley Maneuver. The following are called Habituation Exercises. I would like to again note that this post is to serve as a reminder of things taught in therapy. You should not try these exercises to treat vertigo that has not been evaluated by your physical therapist:
Begin by sitting upright on the edge of the bed. Turn your head to the right and lie down on your left side. Wait until dizziness stops plus 30 seconds.
Return to upright, wait 30 seconds, then turn your head to the left, and lie down on your right side. Wait until dizziness stops plus 30 seconds, and return to upright again.
Repeat this process for 5 to 10 minutes two or three times per day. Over time, it should make you less dizzy.