What are some techniques for relaxing upper back + neck? I’m a rock climber, and I frequently strain muscles, ligaments, etc in the upper back starting at around T7 and going up to around C7/C6. It can range from close to the spine to under the shoulder blades. I need some techniques for releasing tension and maintaining this area after climbs.
There is a particular motion that many climbers too that can be the cause of neck pain and back pain. It is called belaying and often this has been called the belayer's neck. Many minutes and hours can be spent with the head thrown back and looking up, with much neck and upper back strain. There can also be a lot of neck and back twisting with this sport.
There are many great way to help relax the neck and upper back area:
- Gentle neck traction- stretching the neck out either with a tractioning unit or even a simple rolled towel gives the nerves in the neck a chance to breathe, relax and be in an optimal position
- Breathing Exercises
- Massage - with focus on the suboccipital muscles, cervical paraspinals, trapezius and levator scapulae muscles
- Sleep on a comfortable pillow at night.
- Chiropractic for the cervical and thoracic spine
- Trigger point therapy for neck and upper back/ mid back muscles - specifically for the climber ART technique or myofascial release (albeit painful) is helpful.
- Neck stretching exercises
- Take breaks with climbing. Just a few minute break from the act of belaying can give your neck and back the rest that it needs.
- Strengthen your neck muscles (deep neck flexor muscles)
Picture Source: Blog - Protectivity