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  • Is Your Head Screwed on Too Tight?

    Neck problems

    There’s no other way to put it: Some people’s heads are screwed on way too tight! Between stress, repetitive overuse, poor ergonomics, and wonky posture it’s a pretty common occurrence. Some people are all too aware of it, while others are blissfully unaware. While blissful ignorance may sound preferable, sadly it’s not. Heads that are screwed on too tight usually get worse if they’re not addressed.

    But what does it look or feel like to have your head screwed on too tight? While it’s slightly different for everyone, there are some common symptoms, and I’ve listed them below for you.

    If any of these apply to you, your head is surely screwed on too tight and you should go get a massage asap. If all of them apply, why are you even reading this?!? You should be on a massage table right now. Right. Freaking. Now.

    Your face doesn’t face straight forward when you’re relaxed

    It’s not uncommon for one side of your neck to be tighter than the other, especially if you spend much of your day with your head and neck in a less than neutral position. When this happens, the head can get pulled all cattywompus. (That’s the technical term for it.) Your head may develop a tilt, might turn to one side, or be tipped up or down when you think you’re facing straight ahead.

    You can’t turn it as far as you should be able to

    When one set of muscles are tight, the muscles that make the opposite motion lose their ability to move as much as they should. Loss of range of motion can become a safety issue if it’s serious enough, like if you can’t turn your head far enough to check your blind spot while driving. Even a small loss of range should be taken seriously, however, because it doesn’t take much to push a small loss of movement into a serious one.

    Looking up or down isn’t as easy as it used to be

    This usually results from spending an inordinate amount of time looking down at phones, clients, paperwork, etc., or doing a lot of work overhead. Your mama was right: if you leave it that way long enough, it’ll stay that way and make it hard to move the opposite direction.

    You always have a low level of pain in your neck.

    Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. In this case, you’ve got one set of muscles all tightened up and pulling on another set. Basically, you have a giant tug-of-war game going on in your neck. And you wonder why it hurts?

    Your neck always feels stiff.

    Pain isn’t the only indicator that something’s wrong. Stiffness can result from stress, muscles guarding against possible injury, or muscles splinting an area that’s already been injured. No matter the reason, it’s gonna screw your head on plenty tight.

    You get frequent tension headaches.

    If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that tension headaches are often a result of tight neck muscles. Since tight neck muscles are what cause your head to be screwed on too tight, headaches are a sure-fire indicator that you’ve got a problem. But you already knew that, right?

    You have frequent or constant shoulder pain or stiffness

    Most of your neck muscles attach somewhere in the vicinity of your shoulders. If they’re tight, they’re going to pull on the shoulders and cause some level of pain. To be fair, there are plenty of other causes of shoulder pain or stiffness, but if you have any of the other symptoms that I’ve listed, chances are good that your neck is causing some of your pain and/or stiffness.

    Now it’s time to find out how tight your head is screwed on. We’ll use a scale of 0-7. Give yourself 1 point for each of the above indicators that you experience. Let me know your result in the comments.

    In case you’re interested: I’m a 3. Now. When I started massage school over 15 years ago I was a 7.  I owe my progress to a combination of massage, lifestyle change, and better stress management. If I can do it, so can you!