Cold Weather >>> Shoulder & Neck Pain

Hey friends!  

Sooooo, it’s October 27th and there’s snow on my lawn, deck and pumpkins.  It’s been here for days. Uhhhh, not ok, Mother Nature! #toosoon

My poor, frozen jack-o-lanterns.

Let me tell you something about me; I can handle the winter with all the sub zero temps, short, dark days and spazzy weather patterns.  After all, I appreciate the quiet and the stillness that comes when the snow tucks us in. I intentionally cultivated an outdoor winter activity (alpine skiing)  with my kids so that we would have something to get us out into the fresh air. Most of all, I absolutely adore the feeling I get when it’s 40 and sunny in March and I know I made it; that soon April will unfold into May and everything will get greener, warmer and alive again.


But this fall business . . . it’s hard on a sun lover.  My system can’t seem to integrate the cold and lack of light.  I feel uncomfortably cold and I don’t easily warm up. I huddle near the woodstove, pile on layers, shiver and frankly, I whine.  Whether other people like this change in weather or not, I think lots of bodies are a little shocked lately . . . here’s why:


In the past week I have seen 16 clients, 12 of whom complained of shoulder and neck pain.  It goes something like this,

Me: How’s it going?  How is your body feeling these days?

Client:  Man, I don’t know if I slept weird, or I’ve been sitting at my computer too much or if it’s stress, but my shoulders and neck hurt right here (points to between the scapulae, to the upper traps and to the back of the neck).


With the first four of these clients I thought it was just a coincidence.  Then, as often is the case, I started to notice the same patterns in myself.  And I happen to know that I am not working at a computer more (if I touch a computer 5 times in a week that’s a lot), I’m not sleeping in weird positions (I’m strictly a back sleeper – maybe we’ll get into the posture stuff in another post) and I’m not more stressed than usual (can I get a “whoop whoop”!?!).  Meanwhile, more clients showed up with the same pain patterns. So, what do I have in common with my clients (aside from a strong appreciation for warm massage tables, scented oils and taking good care of myself)? I’m FREAKING cold, and so is everyone else, even the cold lovers.


Here’s what’s going on-


Just look at Luke’s posture on the ice planet Hoth; forward head position and shruggy shoulders. I bet there was a massage droid back in the med bay!

If we want to change our body temperature, one of the easiest ways to do this is by applying heat or cold to our neck. When the temperatures drop, without realising it, we often adjust our posture to try to protect our neck from the cold, which usually means lowering our head further forward and lifting up our shoulders, placing additional strain on our neck and shoulder muscles, which are already a little unhappy because of the way we work, train and sleep

Illustration of superficial back muscles courtesy of


Our trapezius and levator scapula muscles work extra hard to maintain this position, and end up sore, tired and hard while our rhomboids become stretched and weakend.  See illustration.

What do we do about this pattern?  

  1. Notice when you’re dipping your chin and pulling your shoulders up, take a deep breath and try to bring your posture back to whatever “normal” is for you.  We’re not going for perfect here, just less shruggy (yes, I just made up the word “shruggy”).
  2. Move.  Do some stretches, go to a yoga class (I have several to recommend.  If you want info, message me!), dance around your living room, hit the treadmill or head outside.  Movement helps improve circulation and brings blood to your cold places.
  3. Try a sauna.  I know several people around here who have their own backyard saunas and if you don’t have a friend with one, I strongly recommend making new friends.  If that’s too daunting, there’s great infrared sauna at Images Salon in Orford. I just tried it this week and it was heavenly. Super convenient and affordable, too!


AND . . . (shameless self promotion ahead)

One lucky client getting my elbow into a knot in their upper traps. Photo courtesy of Hunter Paye.


     4. Book a massage!  I can help release some of the sore tense muscles, talk to you about postural patterns and stretches you can do for them and the warm table and relaxation will do you some good.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading my stuff!  It’s          a fun creative outlet for me.  As always, if you have              topics you would like me to cover, shoot me a                      message and I’ll dive in!  Until then, be well, drink              plenty of water, hug your people and go easy on                  yourself!