The Importance Of “Unshrugging”

Many of us hold our shoulders up to our ears, also known as shrugging. Why do we shrug our shoulders?

  • Stress can cause our neck muscles to carry more tension which leads to shoulder shrugging.
  • Sometimes we shrug our shoulders in response to a question or as a nonverbal form of expression.
  • Chronic overuse on a computer, tablet, or other electronic device can cause our shoulders to round forward and shrug.

Regardless of “why” we shrug our shoulders, we should try to focus on “unshrugging.”

Unshrugging is the opposite of shrugging. It’s all about lowering your shoulders - think about hanging your arms by your side, making a fist with each hand, and punching down toward the floor. If you feel a stretch across the top of your shoulders and into your neck, then you probably shrug your shoulders more often than you think.

Unshrugging will stretch the upper trapezius muscles (one of the muscles across the top of the shoulders). This is important because...

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When this “I Just Slept Wrong On My Neck” Becomes That “When Will My Neck Pain Go Away?”

Neck pain is one of the most common reasons I see people in my office. Patients often say,


“I don't know why my neck started hurting…I think I must have slept wrong.”


“My neck hurts worse in the morning when I get’s just really stiff.”


“My neck is fine in the morning but gets worse throughout the day.”


“I hear all this popping and cracking in my neck when I turn my head. It’s kind of sharp when I turn to check my blind spot.”


Even though every single person has the common complaint of neck pain, the root cause of their neck pain is different in each of their complaints.


Let me walk you through my brain when I hear these complaints:


“I think I slept wrong on my neck” - Most of the time this complaint is going to be related to a muscle strain, specifically the levator scapulae muscle. One end of the muscle attaches on the cervical vertebrae closest to...

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How Do I Get Rid Of A “Kink In My Neck”?

As I write this blog, I am reminded that September 6th is National Read A Book Day.

Have you held a book in your lap and after reading it for awhile, tried to look up but felt a “kink in your neck”?

Or, maybe your son or daughter stayed up late cramming for an exam and then complained about a “kink in their neck” the next morning?

In my own personal experience, I have awakened with a “kink in my neck”.

Why does this happen?

One of the most common reasons the “kink in the neck” occurs is because of muscle imbalances. 

What’s out of balance?

Stand up wherever you are right now.

Stand and move your chin to your chest to look down at your feet. Do you feel a pull in the back of your neck?

Imagine standing or sitting in this position for 1 hour. The muscles in the back of your neck would get nice and stretched but the muscles in the front of the neck would get nice and tight. 

When someone is reading for awhile and...

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Why Your Head Feels as Heavy as a Bowling Ball

Imagine carrying a bowling ball
in your hand all day.

Do you think you would get a little tired of doing that?

Well, that’s exactly what your neck muscles are doing all day.

And, if your posture is poor then your neck muscles could be doing even extra lifting!

I see this all the time in my office. A patient arrives with complaints like “my neck hurts”, “my head feels heavy”, “it hurts to lift my head out of the wash basin at the salon – I have to use my hand to help lift my head”, or even “I feel like I sleep on my neck wrong every morning”

The “neck hurts” or the “I slept on my neck wrong” is typically associated with muscle or joint issues where the muscles are tight and the joints are often stuck. Either way, you can’t move your head the way you want.

The heavy head is often a result of poor posture over time. For example, we live in a very technological society. We lean over our...

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“Do I Have To Have Surgery If I Have A Herniated Disc?”

This is a common question I hear from patients who arrive in my office having just visited the physician and learned that they have a herniated disc. They see the x-ray of the spine. They see the MRI or may be the CT-scan. Then get inundated with a lot of information where they don’t understand all the big words AND all of that combined can seem pretty scary and confusing. They often leave not the physician office not really knowing what to do next.

What exactly is a herniated disc?

Rather than get all fancy with big medical words, the best way to describe a herniated disc is to think of a jelly donut. The outer donut part is the outer portion of your disc and the jelly part of the donut is the gel-like substance in the inner part of the disc.

A herniated disc has different levels of complexity. Less complex means that the jelly is starting to bulge into the donut part but you can’t see the jelly yet. Moderately complex means that the jelly is bulging more and...

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Celebrating National Physical Therapy Month

October is Physical Therapy Month, so I would be remiss if I didn’t share how amazing this profession really is. What also amazes me is that so many people don’t really know or understand what physical therapists actually do.

When people think of physical therapy, they often think of a person who had surgery going to rehabilitation or an athlete in rehabilitation trying to get back to their sport.


Yes, I am shouting aloud – not in anger or hostility – but in a loving fun and kind way because I admit that my profession does a poor job of teaching people about what we do

I want to change that.

Did you know that physical therapists like myself are back and neck specialists?

  • I know how to use 5 different levels of mobilizations to move the joints of the spine - this sometimes creates a “pop” and sometimes it doesn’t; although the “pop” sounds like something cool just happened,...
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