May 5, 2019

A news story on CNN caught my eye last week, about a 28 year-old man who’d “cracked” his neck. That “crack” was truly a crack and resulted in instant stroke because he’d torn arteries to his brain. As I searched online to verify the story, I found multiple verifications, including the doctor’s credentials and location. An ABC station’s coverage of it linked to a similar story, that of a yoga teacher doing a handstand with odd neck/head position who also ripped an artery, also ending up with a stroke; and yet another story of someone going to a chiropractor who adjusted her neck—improperly. She died 2 days later. If you watch to the end of the CNN video, you can see the doctor who treated the young man, Dr. Vance McCollom, demonstrate a safer way to crack your neck, if you must do such.

But please, consider this: Neither bones nor muscle/connective tissues are happy with sudden, unexpected moves (ever have whiplash?). Cracking your neck and receiving neck adjustments, even though anticipated, are nevertheless sudden and literally shocking to the structural and nervous systems. And may be life-threatening.

Why do something so risky when there are simple, safe ways to release tensions in your neck, supporting alignment as well?! Try the following alternative to cracking your neck. It involves my go-to Ortho-Bionomy® guide, Winnie-the-Pooh. (See blog post 9/27/18) After learning this self-care practice, one client emailed, “Love the Pooh bear exercise. Even after 30 sec, I could feel my neck relaxing. Thanks!”

Self-Care: Winnie the Pooh in the Garden Watching Butterflies
Sitting or standing, imagine you’re Pooh Bear in an English garden watching a butterfly on a warm summer day. Follow its random path from flower to flower with your entire head, including your eyes–from the tall blue larkspur to the low clover blossoms and white alyssum, to honeysuckle on a trellis, to roses of varied heights and colors, and lavender, some nearer, some further away–visualizing the butterfly and flowers as you move your head.

If you find yourself settling into a rhythm or pattern, return to random.  Move throughout your entire comfortable range of motion–rotating left/right (gesture No), tilting sideways, forward/back (gesture Yes). If there’s discomfort, you’ve gone too far in that direction, so come back a tad. Vary the speed, but overall, move slowly in order to stimulate the proprioceptive nerves within the neck joints, connective tissue, and muscles. Remember you’re Pooh, just hanging out…in a lovely garden. Nowhere else to be; nothing else to do.

Try this for a minute or two when you’ve been sitting at your computer or device for a while, if you’re at a red light, any time your neck feels tense, or you’re thinking of cracking it. “Gentle and slow” take us a long way on our healing journey. Over time you’ll discover your comfortable range of motion has expanded and your neck remains freer for longer stretches of time.

Should your Winnie the Pooh mood not be quite enough for you, please do call me for support. I’m happy to help you release your neck..without cracking.