Acute back and neck pain respond well to ice, as discussed in the previous blog. They also respond well to isometric contraction, which means tightening the muscles of the target area without allowing motion. Muscles are hard-wired to relax following contraction. When spine system muscles are sore, irritable or even in spasm, gentle contraction, held for three or four seconds and then released fully, will bring the distress level down a notch or two. Be certain to allow no motion during the contraction and perform the isometric contraction from a position of neutral.
Neutral means that the involved joints are in their natural position. For the neck, perform isometrics while sitting or standing fully upright as shown above. Push gently head-against-hand and hand-against-head for three seconds then fully release. Repeat in each of the four directions shown.
For the rest of the spine, neutral is achieved by standing or by sitting correctly upright. While in that position, squeeze abdomen, groin, buttock and back muscles gently and hold for several seconds before releasing. Repeat the process according to the severity of discomfort and the effectiveness of the isometric contraction.
Neck pain patients commonly comment years later that "that push thing fixed" their neck problems and allowed them to avoid or take care of their own neckaches thereafter. Back patients often comment that the "squeeze thing" always brings relief and helps them remember upright posturing.