Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Low Neck Pain and Suitcases

If you travel a lot, this may help. How do you pick up a heavy suitcase? Of course, it is best to use wheels or a cart. But there are occasions when we have to heft a heavy bag. 

Three ways to do it. First, for most of us, we tense and lift the shoulder towards the ear while gripping and lifting the bag. The shoulder tension stabilizes the joint, which is good. But the lifting of the shoulder yanks up the upper ribs (particularly the first rib) -  a prime cause of chronic neck and shoulder pain. Even if, later, you relax your shoulders fully, the pain is still there because those first ribs are now locked in place, elevated. We want to avoid doing this. 

The opposite extreme would be to keep the shoulder fully loose, relaxed as you lift a heavy bag. This would over-stretch the ligaments and tendons in the joint - not a good thing. Intuitively we would never do that. 

Best is the middle ground. Picking up a heavy suitcase, let it pull the shoulder down, creating a nice stretch between the shoulder and the neck. Like that, tense and stabilize the shoulder. This will not cause an elevated first rib, in fact it can even bring it down to normal position. I have alleviated my own neck pain while traveling by using this trick. 

1 comment:

Craig said...

What happened to the
old fashioned lift
with the legs and keep the back straight? When did that get phased out?