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Is neck traction healthy?

cashew2501
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Is neck traction healthy?
Hello Esther! I attended your Boulder, Colorado workshop last October and learned so much. Your patient, comprehensive approach made all the material very easy for me to understand. Thanks again!

I have a question. A few years ago my chiropractor recommended that I do a traction exercise for my neck. He told me to simply lie  flat on a bed and hang my head off the bed (so that the head and neck are totally unsupported). He had me doing this for 5 mins a day. I am currently having a lot of neck and shoulder pain and plan on doing some exercises several times a day, but before incorporating this one I wanted to ask you--is this a healthy exercise to do, or not? If yes, then is there any advice you can offer about how to do it safely?

Thanks,
antonia
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Hi Antonia,

I remember you well. Too bad you're having neck and shoulder pain - I wonder why...

I think gentle neck traction is great, but not the way you're describing. You want to preserve the shape of the neck, not distort it. A lot of neck traction devices (e.g. the ones that sling over a door) don't pull on your head at a healthy angle. The one I like is a little pricey and need a doctor's prescription (though you can sometimes find them on e-Bay) - it's called a Saunder's cervical traction unit. Comes in a little suitcase and pulls the right way. Kind of expensive.

You can also create a home traction system by tying a LONG strap to a kitchen towel, creating a very big loop. Put a piece of the loop through the crack in the doorway just above one of the hinges and tie a knot on the other end so the loop remains fastened in the doorway when you close the door. Now lie down with your head cradled by the kitchen towel (use your hand sto help it not slip off your head) and you can scootch your body away from the door to create some gentle traction. It helps to be lying on a pillow to begin with and the loop needs to be very long so that the direction of pull is almost horizontal, not vertical.
cashew2501
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Thanks so much, Esther. I will try this method. Sounds much more gentle and comfortable than hanging my head off the bed! I am about to go on a road trip...I bet it'll work just as well using a car door if I make sure the loop is the right length! (Might get me some funny looks, but it's worth it :) )
Esther Gokhale za obraz
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Hmmm - car doors have a pretty tight fit - be careful you don't destroy your car. Doors usually have big cracks that will easily accommodate a double thickness of strapping (I mean the kind used in yoga classes, usually available in a fabric store.)
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