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Cranial Nerve 10: New evidence suggests that cervical tightness affects vagal tone and function
This weeks blog post is for everyone who has ever wondered: Why is my neck so tight and what can I do about it? Many of us spend more than half of our day focused on a small screen for one reason or another. That narrow focus shrinks our visual field, stiffens our backs and necks, and make us feel like we are in a straight jacket.
Not only does a tight neck feel crappy, but it can negatively affect your overall health in surprising ways. Compression in your neck affects many nerves, veins, arteries, and organs. In today’s post, we’ll look at just one nerve, the vagus, which controls a whopping 75% of your parasympathetic nervous system. That means a tight neck can affect your heart rate, stomach, digestive system, emotional states, urinary tract, and even your sexual health.
Most medically oriented websites will try to locate the specific tissue that is causing your neck pain and treat that one symptom.
Unfortunately, they don’t consider the quality of your own attention. This may be the original source of some of the tissue damage. I hope this week’s video remedies that oversight! It shows you how to attend to your neck with ease from the outside through touch, and from the inside through sound.
Do you talk to yourself kindly, with softness and warmth? You are not crazy if you talk to yourself! Those qualities of energy can bring deep relief. We talk to ourselves “in our heads” and also through the sounds we make in our throat. So let’s make the best of it.
Here is an image showing a few of the delicate structures in your neck. These tissues don’t like to be poked and prodded – they prefer a love vibe.
Instead of digging into the tight muscles or submitting them to high-tension stretches, we can vibe them instead.
Your neck is tight..because you tightened it. That’s good news, because you can stop doing so. You can develop a new habit of habitual ease, fluidity, and balance from the inside out.
The video explores a gentle softening of the tissues around the highest branches of your vagus nerve:
1) In the front of the neck at the auricular branch which carries sensation in the ear canal to your brain.
2) In the back of the neck at the meningeal branch which carries sensation from the meningeal lining of the back/bottom of your skull to your brain.
There’s so much more to the vagus – many branches and organs. This is just a small taste. If you want some guidance, check out one of my programs of study.