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Stress In The Neck And Shoulders

The average weight of the human head is 4.5-5kg/10-11lb. It contains the brain which weighs about 3 pounds. Then there is the skull, eyes, teeth, facial muscles and skin. When experiencing stress, you are more likely to increase tension in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, which can cause many symptoms, including headaches. How to combat it though?

There are 3 main points:

1) Posture

2) Abdominal Breathing

3) Biomechanics

Questions I ask clients to think about:

How long do you sit at a desk and/or drive per week?

How much do you use your last 3 fingers (middle to little finger), especially when gripping?

Do you look down a lot, such as texting or reading?

Do you prefer to slouch/lean/rotate despite knowing it is bad for your posture? And if so, do you take the time to correct your posture again, such as stretching the chest and shoulders?

When you breathe in and out, does your upper chest and collar bones move more than your gut?

Do you clench and/or grind your teeth?

When standing with arms down and relaxed, does your palm face forward, your side, or back?


There are many spinal deviants such as kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis, and torticollis. In some cases it can be congenital, meaning you were born with it. However, in many cases it is due to poor posture and biomechanics!

Considering the weight of the head, think of the increased pressure on the front of the neck, shoulders and chest in order to maintain support, whilst the back is strained.

A correct posture should have a straight line through the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle as displayed in the picture above. One way to help correct this is simply doing "double chin exercises" and trying to maintain a posture with your head retracted. Julian Baker spoke about the SCM muscles (muscles going from the skull to the collar bone by the sternum) being a hip flexor at the British Fascia Symposium 2016, of which kyphosis overloads this muscle in posture, chest breathing and hip flexion!!!! Releasing the SCM can relieve many symptoms from headaches to neck and shoulder pain, including the fascial release it gives reaching the scalenes, occiputs, TMJ, pectoralis major and minor, sternum, and scapula.

TOP TIP: By simply keeping your head retracted with shoulders back and down, ensuring there is a straight line from ear to shoulder (taking into account the line then goes through the hip and ankle), it will help alleviate symptoms of stress. An important note is to be aware of grinding and/or clenching of the teeth by trying to maintain a relaxed jaw.


We have 12 pairs of ribs, with the lower 5 ribs being "false" and "floating" ribs giving them a greater capacity potential, compared to the 7 pairs of ribs attached to both the spine and sternum. Furthermore, our lungs are smaller at the top, and larger at the bottom with increased circulation supply to the lower parts, and our primary breathing muscle is the diaphragm. A functional respiratory diaphragm should move down on the inward breathe which pushes the gut outwards, and back up on the outward breathe, pulling the gut back in! During such inhalation and exhalation, it als