The Missing Link in Relieving Shoulder Tension & Neck Pain
Sue Falsone Cervical Spine — Sue Falsone Thoracic Spine — Cervical Thoracic Junction Video
by Sue Falsone
Do your clients also put up with tense shoulders and neck pain?
The average American spends around 45 minutes a day commuting to and from work, and spends incredible 11 hours a day on digital media, including activities like watching TV, surfing the internet on their phones, and doing work on their computers.
These activities are often done sitting down, which can wreak havoc on a person’s posture and put stress on different parts of the body.
One of the key places this stress and tension ends up is in the cervical thoracic junction, an often overlooked region that lies at the base of the neck and at the shoulders.
Long flights, long car trips, train rides and long days at school or work hunched over at a desk—these all cause muscle tension that ends up in the cervical thoracic junction.
Tension that builds up in the cervical thoracic region then ends up affecting the areas that surround it—the neck and shoulders—and can impact heavily on daily living.
Shoulder tension and neck pain associated with problems in the cervical thoracic junction can—
- Cause tension headaches (often described as feeling like a tight band wrapped around the head, causing pain in the head, neck and behind the eyes)
- Disrupt sleep and reduce sleep quality
- Restricte movement and create issues further along the kinetic chain
- Create constant pain and discomfort during the day that makes it hard to focus or enjoy daily activities
What’s more, these problems can’t be fixed with massages or anti-inflammatory medications, which only address the symptoms, not the underlying cause.
This makes understanding how to prevent and treat the underlying issues at the cervical thoracic junction very important for professionals who work with both athletes and the general population suffering from tense shoulders and neck pain.
An Overlooked Part of the Upper Body
The cervical thoracic is a complex area that can have tremendous impact on the health of the surrounding areas, including the shoulders and neck. Despite this, the region is often overlooked by professionals.
To illustrate, a search on the term “lumbar spine” on the biomedical and life science search engine PubMed, and it returns around 83,000 articles on the topic.
A search on the term “thoracic spine” returns around 34,000 articles, and a search on the term “cervical spine” returns around 68,000 articles.
However, when it comes to the term “cervical thoracic junction,” only around 960 articles are returned.
To fill this gap and provide greater awareness and education of this crucial area and how to treat it, Sue Falsone has created The Cervical Thoracic Junction: The Missing Link In Relieving Shoulder Tension & Neck Pain—a DVD lecture explaining the anatomy of the cervical thoracic junction, as well as simple exercises to prevent and treat issues in that area.
An Expert on Treating the Shoulder & Its Surrounding Area
Having spent six years working with professional baseball players at the L.A. Dodgers, and thirteen working with elite athletes across a range of sports at EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance), Sue Falsone has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience in treating issues in and around the shoulder and neck.
And it’s this wealth of knowledge and experience in treating the cervical thoracic junction that she shares in The Cervical Thoracic Junction: The Missing Link In Relieving Shoulder Tension & Neck Pain.
What you’ll find in Sue’s lecture are prevention and treatment strategies based on her own experience working with high caliber athletes. These are strategies that can be used effectively with people across all populations.
In The Cervical Thoracic Junction: The Missing Link In Relieving Shoulder Tension & Neck Pain, physical therapist Sue Falsone covers—
- The anatomy of the cervical thoracic junction: Build a strong foundation for treatment and prevention by understanding this complex region of the body
- Simple, practical exercises you can do with clients to restore mobility and function in the cervical thoracic junction
- Preventing tension from building up in the shoulders and neck in the first place
- Breathing strategies to mobilize certain areas of the body
Whether you’re a manual therapist trying to gain practical tools to help restore this area of the body and relieve your client’s pain and soreness… or you’re a fitness professional just wanting to learn more about this area so you can identify possible issues in your clients and refer out to your network of professionals…
… you’ll find Sue Falsone’s The Cervical Thoracic Junction: The Missing Link In Relieving Shoulder Tension & Neck Pain a valuable addition to your professional library. Most of all, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to start freeing people from pain and soreness in their shoulders and neck.
What’s Covered in the DVD
This video is 58 minutes.
Here’s what Sue covers in the DVD (including transcript page references)
Understanding the anatomy of the cervical thoracic junction
One of the first steps for professionals to relieve pain and tension in the neck and shoulders of their clients is to understand the anatomy of the cervical thoracic junction. Understanding the anatomy of the cervical thoracic junction will allow you to understand what problems might exist and how to best fix them. In the DVD, Sue covers—
- Why the cervical thoracic junction can be a difficult area of the body to deal with. pg.2
- Understanding the anatomy of the areas surrounding the cervical thoracic junction: this is crucial if you want to help people with pain and tension in shoulder and neck area. pg.2-3
- Which segments of the thoracic spine have the same osteo- and arthrokinematics as the lower cervical spine. pg.3
- How far down the thoracic spine you should feel movement when your client turns the head to the side (and how to find that point easily, using the scapula as a guide). pg.3
- The cervical vertebrae that usually protrudes the most from the back of the neck. pg.3
- A simple way to identify restrictions in the cervical thoracic junction. (Simply put your fingers on these two spots in the upper back as your client turns the head and you’ll easily be able to see if there are left-right asymmetries). pg.3
- When to refer out out to a physical therapist or other manual therapist for further treatment on the cervical thoracic junction. pg.3
- What movement you should see in the cervical and thoracic spine area when your client raises an arm overhead. pg.3
- Do you have a patient or client who lacks end-range shoulder motion? If you’re stretching the shoulder to try fix it, you’re doing it wrong. Sue shows you what you need to do instead. pg.4
- How mobile the cervical thoracic junction should be relative to its surrounding areas. pg.4
- Why people tend to carry tension in the upper shoulder and lower neck region (and why simply massaging the area is not enough to solve the problem). pg.5, 9
Relieving tension in the shoulder and neck
In the DVD, Sue will show you simple exercises you can use with your clients to alleviate specific cervical thoracic issues. Using athlete models, Sue demonstrates these exercises clearly on the video. This will allow you to understand how the exercises are to be performed and be confident enough to use them with your own clients. In the DVD, Sue covers—
- How to decrease the amount of tension your patients feel in the upper shoulder and lower neck region (pay attention to this if your patients or clients spend a lot of time at the computer or travel a lot). pg.9
- Common compensatory patterns you’ll typically see in people who have tension in the upper shoulders and lower neck region. pg.10
- How to identify if there is a mobility issue in one of the scapulohumeral muscles. pg.10
- One simple thing you can get your clients to do to help relax the area in the upper shoulder where they carry most of their tension (all you need is a table and a small towel or two). pg.11
- Want to activate the lower trapezius? Use this TheraBand exercise on pg. 13 (this is a great exercise for reducing tension in the upper traps)
- A simple way to increase biofeedback so your clients can self-correct during an exercise. pg.14
- An exercise to do lying face down on the ground that helps mobilize the lower thoracic spine and decreases the tension at the cervical thoracic junction (and an alternative if your client can’t breathe in this position). pg.15
- How to improve thoracic mobility and activate the lower trapezius while simultaneously relieving tension in the upper trapezius. pg.16
- A yoga move that helps build strength and improves mobility in the upper back. pg.17
A little prevention can go a long way in keeping an person free of nagging aches and pains. Improving posture is one important way of minimizing the buildup of tension in the cervical thoracic junction and is therefore a must for those looking to keep their shoulders and neck functioning optimally. In the DVD, Sue covers—
- What ideal posture is and what it should look like (and what poor posture looks like). pg.8
- A good exercise for helping people get out of a forward head position and restore normal head and shoulder alignment (a forward head position can put a lot of tension on the cervical thoracic junction, so if you notice tension there, pay attention to this on pg.13)
- The important muscle most professionals miss when trying to identify why their patients are hunched forward (hint: it’s not the pec minor).pg.10
- A tool that is available virtually anywhere in the world, and can be used to teach people good shoulder and head alignment. pg.12
- An exercise that simultaneously activates the posterior musculature while lengthening the anterior musculature (don’t use this if your client has a history of shoulder instability or history of subluxation or dislocation). pg.16
Facilitating movement using the breath
Sue also shows you how to use breathing as a tool to mobilize certain areas of the body. This knowledge is extremely valuable when targeting a specific area like the cervical thoracic junction. She covers the following—
- Is your patient or client breathing correctly? The three different types of breathing and what you should be seeing in your patient or client. pg.5-6
- The cue Sue uses with people when teaching them how to breathe properly. pg.6
- How to use breathing to facilitate flexion or extension. pg.6
- How to alter body position and use breathing to mobilize different areas of the thoracic spine. pg.6-7
- How to tap into the inspiratory reserve volume when breathing to activate the trunk and improve core stability (creating stability in the trunk allows you to work on mobility in the thoracolumbar junction). pg.7
Sue Falsone is the President and Founder of Structure & Function Education and Falsone Consulting, along with being an Associate professor at A.T. Still University in the Athletic Training program.
After graduate school, Sue spent 13 years at Athletes’ Performance where she began her focus on Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance, working closely with the performance and nutritional teams to create an integrative experience for all athletes.
For over two decades, Sue has immersed herself in the culture, education, and advancement of the athletic training, physical therapy, and strength and conditioning professions.
“Over the course of her career, Sue has been one of the very few individuals who has had a chance to work in all different domains of sports medicine, including injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance training. This unique experience has given her an amazing perspective on how all three of those areas can, and should, work together. Her new book, “Bridging the Gap from Rehab to Performance,” overviews her approach to this spectrum and shares an amazing perspective laced with clinical pearls that only someone with her experience could offer.”
~ Mike Reinold, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS, Champion PT and Performance, Boston, MA
“My rehab process with Sue was like getting a personal MBA! Outlining the process of bridging the gap from rehab to performance educated and motivated me on a daily basis and allowed me to return to the field healthier and stronger than before my injury. I didn’t just rehab my shoulder injury…I felt like I was rehabbing my whole body and mind. I came out moving better and more efficiently, knowing the concept and process before beginning the rehab process created immediate buy-in and allowed me to be relentless in focusing on the daily process toward returning to the field better than before. Sue is simply phenomenal!”
~ Matt Kata, Manager of Youth Baseball Development, Cleveland Indians, Former MLB player