Personal note: A client came in with right sided neck tension, with a pulling sensation on the front of their neck. After revealing they were a police officer, I asked if they spent a lot of time in their car and if they had a lot of equipment in the passenger seat?
“Is it possible that constantly looking right is what’s causing my neck problem?”
Answer: It could be part of the problem.
“What’s in the Passenger Seat of a Police Car?”
On Quora, Former Officer Justi Freeman mentioned that he had a Video Monitor, a Mobile Data Terminal, a Multi Channel Radio System, and Paperwork Organizers in the passenger seat. Used constantly, these tools would force him to look to the right.
Fleetsafety.com also has tablet mounts, laptop mounts, and video systems listed for policemen. All of these would be to the right of the officer in their car.
“Why would looking right constantly be a problem?”
Several muscles in the neck are utilized to turn the head. Repeating the motion will cause Trigger Points and tension. Some muscles that are affected are:
- Scalenes: Three muscles on both sides of the neck. They help the neck bend side to side. Looking right constantly will tense up the right sided scalenes. And if the officer is looking at a downward angle, the front scalene will be the most tense.
- Levator Scapulae: is a pair of muscles that start at the top of the spinal column and travel down to the shoulder blades. Lev Scap’s main purpose is to lift the shoulder blade during shoulder and neck movement. The main stretch for this muscle is to bring your head off to the side, then tilt your chin down. However, similar to the Scalenes, if Lev Scap is in the rotated head, chin down position too long, it will tense up the back of your skull and neck.
- Sternocleidomastoid (SCM for short) is a pair of muscles in the front of the neck, connecting from the middle sections of the collarbone, then inserting into protruding sections of the skull, behind the ears. This muscle is a little funny as it allows for the head to rotate the opposite way. So, if the head rotates to the right, the left SCM will activate. Furthermore, if the SCMs are kept in a rotated position for too long, the muscle will remain tense.
Scalenes, Lev Scaps, and SCMs are only three sets of muscles that are effected by a rotation of the head. There are a few more muscles that will need to be worked on, but these three are the main culprits of headaches and decreased Range of Motion in the neck.
Personal Note: Police Officers, Deskworkers, and Students are most common client to have these neck problems.
“Are there any stretches I can do to loosen these muscles?”
Personal Note: Yes! I have a few stretches I give my clients for these specific muscles.
For SCM, place both your hands on your chest, pull down the skin slightly and look over one shoulder to an upper corner in the room. Personal Note: A client mentioned once that their Yoga instructor told them to “look over your shoulder, like you’re looking for fireworks behind you.”
All of this compounds with stress. If you know someone who constantly has pain in their neck, call your local Massage Therapist or Chiropractor.