Almost everyone has experienced waking up with a sore neck. Or something happens and the neck just hurts so that you can barely turn your head. Most chiropractors charge around $75 for a ten-minute visit to force the neck back into position, almost always causing soft tissue damage. Smart chiropractors know this and ice their clients after an adjustment Another case of the cure being worse than the condition. Now, it is literally possible for you take matters into your hands. And, it can be done gently without force, cracking, or pain.
The most common misalignment in the neck is caused by one or more vertebra rotating to one side or the other. The part of the vertebra that protrudes at the back of the neck is called the spinous process. Think of this bony protuberance pointing more to one side or the other. This is the vertebra rotating to that side.
Many muscles attach to the spinous process, and when you press into those muscles the tenderness is where they are bunched up from the vertebral rotation. This is true even when your neck isn’t really bothering you. A minor tenderness you might find in your neck most likely is a minor misalignment. There are adjustment muscles that are constantly pulling against the vertebra, working to keep the neck and other joints in alignment. These minor mishaps in the alignment aren’t usually noticed because they are minor, and the body does the adjustment naturally as you move about with your normal activity. In some ways, the technique presented here is an extension of the natural way the body does these realignments all the time.
Sometimes muscles will tense up, usually from emotional stress, causing a misalignment. This type of misalignment is more likely to get your attention. A simple misalignment is when one or more vertebra rotate to the same side. When they rotate to alternating sides things can get really uncomfortable, even painful, and consequently a little harder to tell what is going on. The most uncomfortable misalignment happens when one vertebra rotates to one side and the one above or below rotates to the other side.
Finding which vertebra is out and which way tells you where to adjust and which way. This is usually fairly obvious and can be determined by feeling around for the tender or sore areas. You may have to press in to find the exact spot. Most likely the more tender area is the side the vertebra has rotated to, the misalignment.
The adjustment involves a little pressure into the bunched up muscles just to the side of the spinous process which releases them. Turning your head rotates all the vertebra as they do naturally, bringing the one you are adjusting back into alignment.
Lets say the third cervical is very tender on the right side, about two and a half to three inched below the base of the scull. To adjust, take your left hand behind your neck and gently pull just to the right side of the vertebra. The middle finger works well, but it doesnt matter, just so you can pull into the muscles to the right of the spinous process. Gentle pressure releases the muscles and encourages the spinous process to the left. Drop your chin a little and slowly turn your head to the right following along with your finger. It only takes about four ounces of pressure, sometimes even less.
You don’t have to worry about doing the wrong adjustment. This technique is so gentle that you are very unlikely to cause a problem. If you do happen to cause a misalignment, you will know right away by how uncomfortable it becomes. If this happens, just adjust in the other direction.
The first and fifth cervical can be a little different. The fifth is very common, and there can be physiological reasons for it to be out, and it is very deep in and hard to reach. It helps to tuck your chin as far as you can to fully expose the spinous process. The first cervical or atlas usually needs to be adjusted on both sides, and each side needs two adjustments. The first one is further out to the side of the tight muscles, then adjust again as above.
That is the basic technique for self adjusting the neck. A little pressure to release the muscles and encourage the vertebra in the direction it needs to go, dropping the chin to help expose the vertebra and a rotation of the head to the opposite side you are pulling on. Try it out, I think you will be pleased with the result.