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Trapped nerve?

Jan 12th, 2014

Daniel asked The Guru for the following Physiotherapy Advice:

Hi Guru

I’m a strength athlete and I’ve been pushing my personal bests hard recently. It’s been going well till last week when my neck, trapezius and rhomboid region got very stiff indeed. I tried to stretch it out but it wouldn’t budge. Then around three days ago I noticed a tingling, pins and needles sensation in my right shoulder joint and by the end of that day my shoulder was totally numb on the surface of the skin, it still is. If I rotate my head towards my left shoulder while the right is relaxed it sets off an almighty twinge in the top of my right shoulder and the whole region of skin numbs even more. Do you think I’ve trapped a nerve perhaps? Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thanks for your time

The Guru Responded:

Hi Daniel

Absolutely right – sounds very nervy.

See I think you didn’t have a tight muscle, but instead you had a stiff muscle. The difference, which is important as it’ll dictate how you deal with it, is that a tight muscle is due to something elsewhere that’s not doing very much. You need to to not only stretch the tight muscle but to stop it coming back again, make sure you re educate the muscle elsewhere thats not doing very much. I don’t think you had this but I think you has a stiff muscle, which is a protective muscle stiffness – most likely protecting the nerve (or brachial plexus) underneath it. The more you stretch, the more the nerve becomes irritated the stiffer the muscle becomes…

If you’re big in and on strength then you’ll commonly have really shocking posture – stiff thoracic spine with your chin sticking out to compensate how you move. Its exaggerated by sitting in front of a PC all day too…

You need to to get your thoracic spine moving more and take the load from the middle bit of your neck that hinges when you poke your chin out. Stand tall, have a spotter when training and don’t slouch!

Good Luck

The Guru

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