11/18/2021 by Dr. Michaela Peterson
Stressed-out Moms get Stiff Necks and Rock-hard Shoulders
Stressed, overwhelmed, tense—these feelings come along with motherhood because being a mom is a full-time job. And while it’s a very rewarding job, it can also wreak havoc on your body. One condition we often see in stressed out moms has been lovingly termed “mom shoulders.”
The symptoms of mom shoulders can cause pain and discomfort, and most moms just don't have time for that. Luckily, chiropractic treatments can help relieve the pain and stress that come with motherhood.
Do you have to be a mom to experience mom shoulders? No.
Anyone carrying a lot of responsibility—feeling busy and overwhelmed without a lot of time for self-care—can experience the tension that causes stiff, tight and painful neck and shoulder tissues. We just happen to see a lot of moms with this condition, so we named it mom shoulders.
Your stress often shows in how you carry your shoulders.
Stress manifests in our bodies in many ways, but one of the most common presentations I see is mom shoulders. The best way to explain mom shoulders is to tell you about a patient of mine.
Her shoulders were rock-hard.
This patient was pregnant with twins and had two young children, ages 2 and 5, at home. Her husband was in the military serving a deployment at the time. Her mom shoulders came from stress and lack of sleep.
It felt like she had a brick on either side of her neck.
When I examined her, I could feel the stress and added responsibility she was carrying in her shoulders.
Patients with mom shoulders often wear their shoulders like earrings.
Mom shoulders creep higher and higher toward the ears. This comes from super tight and tense shoulder and neck muscles. Mom shoulders can also make it difficult to turn your head while driving.
This condition can also lead to headaches.
This kind of headache manifests in “a coat-hanger like pathway”—up the neck and around the ear. It happens because the trapezius muscle gets so tight.
Body work like chiropractic, massage and acupuncture can help relieve the tension.
You can find all three services in our office, but I recommend you get diagnosed first, so we can schedule the right treatment.
How we diagnose and treat shoulder and neck tension as chiropractors.
We use palpation to find issues in the trapezius muscle and to identify trigger points and taut fibers within the muscle belly. From there, we'll develop an individualized treatment plan that could include:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Myofascial release
- Muscle stimulation
- Stress management
- CBD creams to relax tight muscles
- CBD capsules to promote relaxation
- Magnesium citrate supplements to relax muscles
The goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to send signals to the body that it can relax—think “rest and digest.”
Every patient is different, but we tend to see significant results after 2-3 visits.
Stress management is key!
We recommend trying stress management techniques to prevent reoccuring mom shoulders. Since stress is the driver, reducing your stress will reduce your pain over time. Some of our favorite stress reduction techniques are:
- Breathing exercises
- Regular exercise routine
- Support group
- Date nights
- Regularly scheduled body work
Need some help making time for self-care?
Dr. Goldi has seen the negative effects of overwhelm and stress in herself, and her patients. She sends a free bi-monthly newsletter to help women fit in a little self-care each day. You can sign-up for the Small Acts of SelfCare Newsletter here for tips that help reduce your stress in less than 15 minutes a day.
Need to get out pain right now?
Are you experiencing pain and tension in your shoulders, upper back, or neck? Having recurring headaches? Make an appointment online and come see us in Aptos. We'll get you out of pain and back into life.
Did you know that many health conditions can originate from neck dysfunction?
Learn about the correlation between neck dysfunction and body pain in this blog post, which includes helpful tips to alleviate discomfort and exercise recommendations to improve overall neck function.