Do you find that stress and prolonged computer use creates a lot of neck and shoulder tightness and pain? Maybe it even creeps up towards your head, creating tension headaches. It can be hard to make it all the way through the work day with this kind of discomfort and it’s also harder to leave work behind at the end of the day when the tension sticks with you.
Chinese medicine has a handful of wonderful therapies that effectively release neck and shoulder pain — acupuncture, gua sha, and cupping. Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles directly into the tight muscles to allow them to release. Gua sha is a massage-style method where a soft-edged tool is gently rubbed over the skin to release muscle adhesions and enable the muscles to relax. Lastly, cupping is a therapy used in many cultures which creates a reverse-massage — suctioning the skin and muscles upwards to allow improved circulation through the muscle tissues below.
Together, these three therapies can work wonders for release neck and shoulder tension.
For example, for the last year I have periodically worked with Dani, a woman in her 30s with a history of trauma, a very stressful job, and difficulty enforcing her personal boundaries. She winds up with an excessive amount of stress regularly because of her difficult history and her demanding work.
Frequently for Dani, the stress manifests in her neck, upper back, and shoulders. She has suffered from tension headaches for many years. She sees a chiropractor regularly, which helps, but some of the muscle tension remains unaddressed. She also feels quite tired from continual stress and overwork.
Dani comes to see me once or twice a month to relieve her neck and shoulder tightness, calm her nervous system, and help her feel more energy. Over time her health has noticeably improved — she sleeps better, she has more energy, and she now eats better and can motivate to get a little more exercise because she is feeling well. Her headaches, when they do come, are much less intense. She uses acupuncture for periodic tune-ups to help keep her body functioning well, to decrease pain, and to help her manage her demanding job.