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Are Your Neck and Shoulders Sore by the End of the Day? Part I

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach


A
s a voice specialist, I have found that 95% of my female clientele experience soreness in their neck and shoulder regions by the end of the day. Some women complain of a sore jaw as well. Having worked with thousands of people, it is interesting to note that I have had only a handful of male clientele who complain of pain in these areas.


Why the difference?

Because we women carry our stress differently than men; and, we tend to become more aware of it by the end of the day. While I haven’t done a controlled study on the subject, I have found that the stress men carry (if they carry any stress at all) is more likely to affect them in their digestive tract: it is a medical fact that men are more susceptible to peptic ulcers than women.

I would also venture to say that the mothers of the Baby Boomer generation did not experience the tremendous amount of stress that we women of that ‘infamous’ generation, as well as younger women, do today.

Again, why the difference?

Raising children is much harder today than it was in the past because we physically spend less time with our children but place more attention on them when we are together.
Because our lifestyles have changed drastically since that of our parents or our grandparents; and, we are now faced with not only the stress that comes from raising children and managing a household but the tremendous pressure placed on us by our careers or jobs.

To say that our stress has doubled would be a mistake. Ladies, our stress is ten times greater than earlier generations because of our lifestyle. Raising children is much harder today than it was in the past because we physically spend less time with our children but place more attention on them when we are together.

Look at it this way: for the stay-at-home mom who oversees her kids’ whereabouts throughout the day, there is not the same pressure on her to ‘give attention to her children’ as there is for the mom who picks up her children from daycare and then has to provide dinner, do the laundry, run some errands, take the kids to soccer or baseball practice, give them a bath, read to them, etc. The list goes on and on. And that list is considered the ‘small’ stuff. We women are built to sweat the small stuff because we are geared for multi-tasking; however, add to our multi-tasking, the problems of the job or the career and we are on overload. It really is too much. And, while statisticians may be concerned about where they’re going to put all of us retiring Baby Boomers, I question if our stress won’t kill us before it’s time for relocation to the retirement center.

Generally speaking, men are not good at multi-tasking: they are built to tackle the problems encountered in their jobs or their careers, that which is considered the ‘big stuff’. [I know I am being politically incorrect here but the truth is the truth. If women and men were the same, I would have men with sore necks and shoulders and a lot more women with ulcers!]

So how do we combat this tension? There are so many
We women are built to sweat the small stuff because we are geared for multi-tasking; however, add to our multi-tasking, the problems of the job or the career and we are on overload.
courses, books, and CDs on alleviating, reducing, eliminating and dealing with stress and yet most of these programs do not emphasize the most important thing you can do. Better negotiation or organization of your time is certainly an option but it will not stop the ache in your shoulders or neck until you do one very simple thing: learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and I guarantee you will notice a tremendous difference in how you deal with stress, in hoIt is a medical fact that 99% of the population do not know how to breathe properly. Watch any other mammal breathe and you will learn something from them because all mammals have a diaphragm and all mammals use that muscular partition to support breathing.

If you have a dog or a cat at home, watch it the next time your pet is lying on its side or on its back. You will notice that as the animal inhales, he/she will take the air all the way down to his/her lower torso. We are born breathing with the support of the diaphragm but as we develop, we stop this practice and revert to shallow or lazy breathing, using only the upper portion of the chest to breathe. (I’ve included a link in my bio where you can watch baby John as he breathes.)

Why is breathing so important? If you breathe using only the upper portion of your chest, you are actually increasing the toxins in your body which means that you are increasing your stress.

When you learn how to breathe with the support of your diaphragm, on the other hand, you will notice that you are more relaxed and that the tension in your neck and shoulders will disappear. The reason is because you are eliminating those nasty toxins in your body which actually decreases your stress.

Yoga is a marvelous means of decreasing stress but I question why one would spend 20 or 30 minutes a day practicing yoga, when, if you make diaphragmatic breathing a habit, you can then spend your entire day more relaxed. You may find that you sleep better, fall asleep faster, lower your blood pressure, control nervousness in any form of public speaking, and gain more from sports or fitness programs just by breathing properly.

Some years ago I had a double biopsy in my left breast in which the breast was squeezed (just like a mammogram) for 45 minutes while awake. The breast was not anesthetized except for a tiny area where tissue was removed with a harpoon-type instrument. When it was time for the surgeon to re-squeeze, re-anesthetize, and re-shoot for the second biopsy, I had fallen asleep. Was this a pleasant experience? No, but because I concentrated on my breathing, I was able to sleep through the procedure. I breathe properly 24 hours a day because it is a habit. I don’t think about it: I just do it. In the situation of the biopsy, I consciously breathed and that is why I was able to fall asleep.
Learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm and I guarantee you will notice a tremendous difference in how you deal with stress


Imagine ordering your kids to be quiet, to sit down, or to stop fighting with each other without yelling at them. Because I breathe properly, I am able to increase my volume without shouting. It is called projection and it is truly the best means for establishing total control over the situation. In all the years of raising my two boys, I never yelled at them; I projected. Kids don’t listen when you scream but they definitely take notice when you learn how to project!

It is truly amazing to discover the many benefits of deep supported breathing.

In Part II, I will show you some simple techniques that can change your life in more ways than you can imagine.




International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with
her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and
Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website.
http://www.voicedynamic.com








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