Self Myofascial Release to the Muscles on the Back of the Neck

There are a number of muscles that reside in the back of the neck.  They are mostly covered by the trapezius.  Some of these muscles of the neck travel straight up the spine while others travel diagonally up and towards or away from the centre of the spine.  Many of these muscles start in the upper part of the thoracic spine and either end up in the neck or end up on the back of the head.

The main action of these muscles is to extend the neck and if they attach onto the skull they aid in extension of the head. Because some of these muscles travel diagonally they will also aid in rotation of the spine.  Therefore, when releasing these muscles, a rotation of the neck will provide a little more stretch.

Depending on the muscle involved pain can be referred to the neck, the top of the skull, behind the eyes.

These muscles can become over worked from head forward postures or from lifting heavy weights off the floor while hyperextending the neck.  Straining the neck to lift the weight up. These muscles are often associated with upper cervical joint dysfunctions and a hypomobile thoracic spine.  It is also important to check the muscles of the front of the neck as well.

There are a number of ways to release these muscles.  Acupuncture,  Active Release Techniques, dermal traction (cupping) instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation,  along with changing movement habits.

Self myofascial release of the muscles on the back of the neck.

There are a couple of ways to release these muscles on your own. You can use a ball or half ball help you with this.  Look up slightly and place the ball anywhere  from the base of the skull or down the back of the neck.  You can even extend this down into the upper back.  You will have press down through the trapezius muscle. Once you have made contact with the muscle bring your chin down towards your chest.  You will feel tension pulling on the ball resist this tension by directing your pressure in the opposite direction.

To get a little more out of this movement slightly turn your head left or right and feel the tension.  When turning make sure you maintain contact in the same spot.  Feel the tension and hold for 30 seconds to a minute twice a day.

Knee circles for healthier knees

Dr Notley, Winnipeg Chiropractor and athletic therapist, demonstrates open chain knee circles to emphasis the rotational mobility of the knee.

The knee has the ability to rotate. A lack of range of motion in rotation can alter the movements around the ankle and hip. This may be a cause of pain in the knee, ankles, hips and even the lower back.  Those who have pain with squatting may be having a problem with rotation around the knee

Open Chain Knee Circles

The reason these are called open chain is that the chain of joints (toes, foot, ankles, knees, hips, are not in contact with the ground.  You can see in this other knee circles/cars exercise that my feet stay on the ground. This is a closed chain exercise.

To perform this exercise begin by holding your thigh so your movement is coming from your knee rather than from your hip. Turn your foot to the out side and pull the heel up as close to your buttocks as you can.  Make sure you are keeping your foot point out the entire time

Once you have reached as far up as you can turn the foot inwards and straighten your leg out.  As you near complete straightening of the knee your foot will naturally end up loosing the inward rotation of the foot so don’t worry about that.

You can also perform this exercise in the opposite direction by first turning the foot in and then pulling up towards your buttocks.  

Don’t rush through these movements. Take your time.  Going too fast allows your body to skip through problem areas.

If you experience pain while performing this exercise consider making an appointment to be examined by a professional.

Dr Notley’s practice is an evidence informed, multi-modal treatment method which combines spinal manipulation/mobilization, exercises, acupuncture and other modes of care, along with patient education.

Dr Notley is available, by appointment, through the following link

Toe Cars (Controlled Articular Rotations) / Toe Yoga

Dr Notley, Winnipeg Chiropractor and Athletic therapist demonstrates a mobility drill for the toes, called Toe CARs or Toe Yoga.

The toes are often neglected when it come to mobility. The joints in this area deserve to move just like the rest of the joints in our body. Rigid shoes limit how much the toes should move. The toes can bend up and down but can also spread apart. Using toe spreaders/spaces are a helpful addition to this exercise Repeat this movement side to side a number of times a day.

** There should be no pain with this movement. If you do experience pain seek out care from a profesional. Dr Notley is available, by appointment, through the following link**

Dr Notley’s practice is an evidence informed, multi-modal treatment method which combines spinal manipulation/mobilization, exercises, acupuncture and other modes of care, along with patient education.

Healthy shoulders with shoulder circles (CARs)

To keep our joints healthy we need to move them, on a daily basis, throughout their full range of motion.


Shoulder Circles

Start this exercise with your palm facing your hip. By only moving the shoulder raise it up in front and overhead.There will come a point where you can’t move any further. Rotate the palm to the out side and continue to rotate backwards. As you continue through the circle the biceps rotates downward to be facing the floor. You should end with your palm facing away from your hip.

You can also perform this movement in the opposite direction.

Do your best to not rotate your torso or side bend.

A healthy shoulder should be able to move through a perfect or near perfect vertical circle. You won’t see this in the video

To gain an idea of how vertical your arm travels stand near a wall. As you perform the movement if you feel the arm touch the wall take a moment there and try and see if you can lift the arm away from the wall and continue on with the movement without touching the wall.

Perform this exercise on a daily basis.

If you experience pain with this movement you should book an appointment to have it checked out

Shoulder Blade Circles (CARs) for neck pain, back pain or shoulder pain

Shoulder blade scapular circles/carsThe shoulder blades or scapulae have muscles that extend to the neck, thoracic spine, ribs and shoulder.  The shoulder blades, therefore, can influence these other regions. Having control/mobility over the scapula would thus be a potential area to work on if you are having problems in these other areas.

I often have my athletes and my desk athlete’s perform scapular circles if they have any problems in these regions. They are easy to do and can be done anywhere.

Shoulder blade / scapular circles (CARs)

Shoulder blade circles/scapular circles (CARs) can and should be performed with the arms in any position.

To show the movement of the shoulder blade I will perform this movement, in the video, with my arms out in front of me. I will only move one arm so you can see how much the shoulder blade contributes to the movement. Keep in mind you can perform this exercise with both shoulders simultaneously.

I often start my athletes off with their hands resting on their laps. This tends to be the easiest way to start. As they get more accustom to controlling the movement of the shoulder blade the arm can be placed in different positions.

start by pulling the shoulder blades together. Once you’ve hit your max then keep the shoulder blades and raise them up as high as you can. Once you have reached your max then round/reach the shoulder blades forward as far as you can, keeping the should blades up. then when you reach the end point keep it there and drop the shoulder blade down.

Perform this movement slowly.

Take about 30 to 60 seconds to complete one circle.

Dr Notley