Help for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – Yoga Can Help
Help for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
I have a colleague that is dealing with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Her doctor has asked her to find someone who specializes on this condition. Just wonder if this is a condition that either of you have worked with? Please let me know if you have any recommendations.
How Yoga can Help relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
First of all – ouch! TOS is no fun and is often called ‘sciatica of the shoulder girdle’. Here is a link to more information from one of my favorite resources, the Mayo Clinic:
Two Sources of the Problem of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
You will see in reading the Mayo Clinic description, there may be 2 sources of the problem:
- The neck where the brachial plexus nerves leave the spine
- The thoracic outlet itself in the shoulder, under the collar bone.
Your colleague may get relief by focusing on both areas. In my experience (which is obviously limited to the amount of people I can see) is that it is usually neurogenic (disorder because of abnormally altered neural relations )as opposed to vascular. You can inquire with your colleague to get more about her symptoms such as looking at the coloring in her hand and check the strength of her pulse on the effected arm to determine if it is vascular. I find even with the neurogenic type, it does not always originate at the neck, but may be due to tight pectoralis muscles – particularly pectoralis minor, causing compression of the nerves as they travel through the thoracic outlet.
Yoga Can Help Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Check the alignment of her neck – work on axial extension and balancing the cervical curve (Jalandhara bandha would be useful here). If she is kyphotic in her thoracic spine, be sure to address that as well through axial extension, opening the chest muscles and strengthening the rhomboids.
- Be very mindful of back bends, possibly avoid them in the upper back and neck or keep chin tucked – back bends can compress the back of the spine where the nerve roots come out and could shorten/compress the area around the thoracic outlet.
- Work on opening the chest, particularly pectoralis minor – hand on the wall at a 135 degree from the body, start to turn the opposite shoulder away until a stretch is felt, look away from wall and drop chin down, breathe into the sensation of stretch – deepening the breath will increase the stretch.
Yoga Poses to open the musculature around the Neck
- The first video below is great for alternately stretching and contracting the neck muscles to release tension.
- For the second video below start around the 4:25 mark.
- The third video is for releasing fascia in the neck and arm.
Holistic Practices for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Garshana (body brushing) and Abhyanga (body oiling) would also be very helpful for nourishing the tissue and calming the nerves I attached an informational sheet on how to do it 🙂
- A therapeutic massage with someone well trained would be lovely for her…..if not comfortable while doing it, relief should come afterwards. I would also suggest Cranial Sacral Therapy as an option for her.
I hope that helps! Please feel free to reach out with more questions and a progress report on how she is doing.
Justine Shelton, Certified Yoga Therapist
Gentle Yoga Therapy for the Neck and Shoulders with Justine Shelton, Certified Yoga Therapist
Neck and shoulder tension is in the Top 3 of the most commonly-reported body aches. Take 5 minutes to release tension in your upper body with this effective flowing Yoga sequence designed by Viniyoga Therapist, Justine Shelton, E-RYT500. Great to do at your desk too!
Great Neck Releasing, Low Back Supporting Yoga Sequence with Justine Shelton, C-IAYT
If you have neck and low back issues… this sequence is for YOU! All you have to do is lie back and listen to Justine’s guidance on how to gently move your spine to bring it into alignment. When our spine is aligned, we can move freely without pain. Enjoy this great neck releasing, low back supporting introduction to a wonderful Gentle Yoga therapy class.
Fascia Neck Release – Amazing Ear Wiggle with Justine Shelton, Certified Yoga Therapist
If you have tight and tense neck muscles then most likely your fascia is tight and limiting your mobility. Here’s proof that everything in your body is interconnected. Find out how simple movements like wiggling your ear and your thumb can release neck tension. Be prepared to be Amazed!
Justine Shelton, Certified Yoga Therapist & Co-Founder of the Yoga Vista Academy
Justine is a graduate of the American Viniyoga Institute under the direction of Gary Kraftsow. She is the Co-Founder of the Yoga Vista Academy and author of their ‘Gentle Yoga for Low Back Care specialty certification program. Justine specializes in structural yoga therapy, specifically spinal disc injuries, back pain management, as well as joint therapy – including prehab and rehab for replacements.
Sherry Zak Morris, Certified Yoga Therapist and Co-Founder of the Yoga Vista Academy
Sherry is a Certified Yoga Therapist and has a proven track record for empowering and igniting passion for 50+ Yoga and wellness. A 3-Time Presenter at the annual Yoga Alliance Conference, the professional and trade association of the yoga world, her enthusiasm for serving those with movement limitations gained exposure for her Specialty Teacher Training Programs. Sherry’s work can be found on YouTube and in the Yoga Vista Online Video Library, YogaVista.TV, where she shares her special style of Energizing Yoga that is accessible to everyone!