In between the vertebral bones of our spine there are shock absorbing discs. With improper loading and instability, the vertebral discs can herniate and push into neighbouring structures. A recent reputable study found that 86.7% of disc bulges in the neck shown on MRI’s are asymptomatic, therefore no pain is felt!?! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584950). Radiographic findings do not necessarily mean a terrible prognosis. As a RMT, it is very likely I have massaged clients that are unaware of minor disc herniations in their neck and low back. During the treatment I assess any lack of movement between vertebral segments and I can feel when muscles are guarding around an injury site. Massage techniques help to restore the mobility of the spine and bring circulation and awareness to the supporting musculature. Pain may not always be present, regular massage is a fantastic preventative plan for your spine health!
Clients come into my massage clinic frequently complaining that they have woke up with neck pain. One likely cause is their pillow, either too big or too flat. Back and side sleeping positions are the best for spine alignment, however the pillow height and firmness make a difference. One quick test, if you fold your pillow in two and it doesn’t bounce back to it’s original form, then it is time to purchase a new pillow! Pancake flat pillows do not provide enough support, unfortunately your neck muscles will tense up while you sleep to compensate. At the other end of the spectrum, a big extra firm pillow may exacerbate a head forward posture and irritate the nerves in your neck and upper back. If you notice you are waking up with neck pain and headaches, massage therapy can help relax the muscles and improve ease of motion of the spine. Hopefully you can find the perfect pillow for your restorative sleeps!