I read another great article in Yoga Journal (October 2010, Issue 232). The author is Roger Cole, PhD, a certified Iyengar yoga instructor and research of sleep in Del Mar, California. This one is about thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), when pain spreads for the neck to the arm and hands. It is caused by compressing or overstretching nerves or blood vessels near the top of the rib cage. This usually develops form repetitive action such as playing a musical instrument or using the computer. I was surprised to see that the top rib attaches to the first thoracic vertebra. The magazine advocates certain yoga movements and an emphasis on good posture. For instance, when typing, do not put your head forward.
The thoracic outlet is the oval space atop the rib cage. It is bordered by: the breastbone, the uppermost ribs, and the first thoracic vertebra. The subclavian artery and vein, and the nerves that serve your hand cross over and through the thoracic outlet, between the first rib and clavicle on the way to the arm. Tight muscles, misaligned bones or scar tissue cause TOS when they squeeze or pull o blood vessels or nerves enough to cause pain or numbness. Yoga can loosen the scalenus anterior and scalenus medius, the muscles that connect the sides of the neck to the top of the rib cage. Here is a stretch to loosen up these muscles, open the thoracic space and alleviate pain.
There is an interesting stretch:
Lie down on a mat. Put open wooden block under your pelvis and open under your shoulder girdle. Place your head on a folded towel. Turn your head to the right so that your chin touches (or tries to touch) the towel. With your hands, push down on the left side of your upper rib cage. Hold for a minute. Breathe. This loosens your left scalenus muscles. Do the same for your right scalenus muscles. Turn your head to the left so that your chin touches (or tries to touch) the towel. With your hands, push down on the right side of your upper rib cage. Hold for a minute. Breathe.
Disclaimer: This is not a very scientific post. More information on this may follow. None of the above information can be taken as a substitute for advice from a medical professional, such as a physician.
My third book, Pocket Guide to Fitness, is available on www.louizapatsis.com, http://www.authorhouse.com, www.bn.com and http://www.amazon.com. If you look up my name on those Web sites, you will find my other books The Boy in a Wheelchair and Life, Work and Play: Poems and Short Stories.