By Sherry Brooks
It seems like most Americans suffer from neck pain. Many elderly adults turn their entire body, when attempting to turn their head because of a lifetime of accumulated stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulders.
When I was in China I visited a doctor of Chinese medicine with a small group of tourists. He could feel where their neck muscles were sore and where there was shoulder tension. The Chinese traditionally sleep on very hard beds with a flat pillow, if there is a pillow at all. They feel that it is better for the back to sleep on a hard bed, whereas Americans like a soft bed with high, fluffy pillows.
The Chinese doctor told us that it is our soft beds and high pillows that cause us to suffer so much neck pain in the West.
If you have neck pain and shoulder tension or simply wish to avoid developing it as you age, there are measures you can take that won't cost anything.
First, try to train yourself to sleep on your back. This will prevent facial wrinkles and is also considered to be the ideal sleep position for all of your organs. If you find yourself moving out of that position at night, sleep with a pillow under your knees to prevent body rotation.
If you do find that you crave a position change to one of your sides, slip that pillow between your knees in order to keep your hips in alignment while you sleep.
Once you have mastered sleeping on your back, it is time to remove the pillow under your head and also the one under your knees. At first this may feel very foreign, but over time as your neck pain melts away, you find that this rather stark sleeping situation is the key to daytime physical bliss.
In short order you will find that visits to the chiropractor, exposure to dangerous x-rays and medications with side effects are no longer needed.
If you don't care to change or eliminate your high pillow because you simply love sleeping that way, we were shown a technique for reducing shoulder tension called cupping.
Acupuncturists perform the cupping procedure. The practitioner uses tongs to put a wick with a flaming piece of cotton into several glass or bamboo cups and then places the heated cups onto the patient's back.
After several minutes the cups were removed, the brave patient in our group felt as though a weight had been taken off of her back. Cupping leaves large red welts where the cups rest on the skin, which fade away completely in about a week.
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