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Music Is Good For Your Mind And Body, Research Finds

Music Is Good For Your Mind And Body, Research Finds

Ever felt better after listening to music? Maybe it calmed you down, helped you sleep, study, or exercise better. It may even have eased your pain. Have you ever wondered why?

When magnetic response imaging (MRI) for the brain was first introduced, it was easy to see which areas of the brain are activated when music is heard and played. The auditory cortex gets going with processing pitch, rhythm, and melody. A part of the cerebrum brings up images associated with the sounds. The cerebellum will help you to move to the music or tap your fingers, if you feel so inclined. Watch the fascinating video here (4 minutes) where you can see MRI imaging at work and how the late Dr. Oliver Sacks’ brain reacted to Bach and Beethoven.

The brain is a highly complex organ and not yet fully understood. It is the control center for managing our behavior, mood, emotions, breathing, bodily functions, and mental processing. Music has been shown to have mostly a positive effect on the brain. Here are some ways that music can improve our quality of life for the better.

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Music may help to ease pain

“One good thing about music, is when it hits you, you feel no pain.” — Bob Marley

Imagine getting a painful shock in your fingers from a burn or a cut. Researchers at the University of Utah did that to 143 people while they were listening to music. They were asked to focus on the music and as they became more engrossed in the music, their pain became more bearable. You can read about more studies in this article: A Dose of Music for Pain Relief.

A study done at the University of Central Florida showed that music provided a significant reduction in pain when patients had to face walking again after surgery. Most research now suggests that music is effective in diverting or lessening pain signals before they get to the brain. This is useful to remember the next time you have headache or toothache – just turn on some of your favorite music.

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Music may relieve stress and anxiety

“We’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics.” — Prof. Levitin, McGill University Psychology Department

Research has homed in on how music can help to lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Studies have concentrated on patients who were about to undergo surgery. Music is often more effective in reducing stress than prescription drugs in these cases.

Patients who are in palliative care often have to face severe pain and deal with end of life issues. The staff at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore did lots of live music therapy for their patients. They took part in singing, playing musical instruments, and song writing. Patients were much calmer and less stressed, they found.

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If you have neglected to use music for relaxation and stress management, go for some quiet classical music.

Music can help prevent mental decline

Frank Iacono is 103 and still plays the violin! He is an active member of the Providence Civic Orchestra. He believes that music has been one of the keys to his longevity. The secret is that both playing and listening to music involves many brain networks. But musicians who still play have an extra advantage in that they have to do some pretty fast mental processing to produce the music. This keeps the brain active and helps to stop mental decline. This is yet another example of the power of music and how it keeps us mentally active and engaged.

“Our study shows that even moderate levels of musical activity can benefit brain functioning.” — Ines Jentzsch, University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Music can lift your mood

Yuna Ferguson led a team of researchers at the University of Missouri in showing how music can lift mood and depression. They discovered that just by listening to upbeat music for a period of two weeks, patients reported an increase in happiness. Experts believe that music helps to generate dopamine, which is known as the feel-good chemical.

“There’s just something about music — particularly live music — that excites and activates the body.” — Joanne Loewy, co-editor of Music and Medicine

While nobody understands exactly how music works on the brain, the take-home message for all of us is to make use of a therapy which is almost free, has no side effects, and can be used anywhere and at any time.

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Time to reach for your headphones and get started!

Featured photo credit: cesk freixas:avui serem el món/Lali Masriera via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 2, 2020

Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

There is very little in life as annoying or distracting as neck pain. Most people find that neck pain is temporary. What can you do if your neck pain seems chronic or if it comes and goes with no obvious source?

Whether you have simply slept on your neck wrong or you are working late, hunched over a keyboard half the night, neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck!

What most people are unaware of is that there are little known hacks that can help you find relief from neck pain fast and naturally. This means no pills or expensive exercise equipment to buy.

How can you get relief from neck pain?

There are several easy steps to follow to find the perfect hack for solving your neck pain fast and easy.

How Did I End Up With This Pain in the Neck?

Neck pain often has an I-was-looking-right-at-it source that we don’t recognize at first glance. Once you identify the source of the pain, you can take the best corrective measure, or several measures if need be!

Ask yourself these questions to find a possible source:

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  • Do you spend much of the day sitting (desk job, typing, etc.)?
  • How old are your mattress and pillow?
  • How much exercise do you work into an average day?
  • How do you manage stress?
  • Have you been injured or in an accident (no matter how small) lately?

Perhaps one last question to ask yourself might be, “Is my pain a regular occurrence, or is my neck pain something that has just cropped up?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start searching for answers.

Remedies for Neck Pain

Once you know the source, try tapping into one (or several) of these solutions to start healing your neck pain now.

1. Everyday Activities

One of the important factors with neck pain will be your everyday activities. Other than an injury or accident, one of the largest factors for neck pain includes working overtime in an office and the stress that work entails[1].

Due to the coronavirus, many people find themselves working from home, in kitchens, basements, using a barstool, and/or other equipment that was not designed for humans to spend hours on end, typing and looking at a computer screen.

If you find that your neck pain has occurred during the past few months due to a job change, or if you suddenly began working from home, your issue may be due to ergonomics. Invest in an adjustable office chair to help make your workspace more neck-friendly.

2. Age of Mattress and Pillow

The age of your mattress and pillow should also be considered. Pillows, on average, should be changed every 3 years, and a mattress every 7-10 years. No matter how good or comfortable you think these items are, the truth is that they are hurting your neck and back with a lack of support.

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A good mattress is well worth the investment, and pillows are always on sale, as well as wallet-friendly. If you haven’t tried them, a water-filled pillow can be comfortable for many people.

3. Exercise/Movement/Stretching

It’s that old exercise question that no one wants to hear. This time around, it has been difficult for many people to get in good exercise since they have been housebound due to the quarantine. There are plenty of ways to get in some good, old-fashioned exercise.

Stretching exercises are even more important than before since many people do not get enough movement while sitting at home. There are hundreds of at-home exercise, dance, and yoga videos that require little to no equipment, so even if you’re a beginner, give it a go.

4. Stress and Stress Management

Stress is a hidden danger that robs more people of health than even most doctors realize. While everyone has stress, not everyone recognizes it, nor do they have a means of managing it. Exercise is one of the best ways to release stress, with meditation and yoga being the best ways to manage and relieve stress. All of these will remove tightness in the muscles and relieve neck pain.

5. Accident or Injury

If you have been involved in an accident or injured yourself lately (falling down, or having something fall on you, for example) and your neck pain began after this incident, you should speak with your doctor about this as soon as possible.

6. On-Going Problem or Sudden Occurrence

Finally, if your neck pain is something that has occurred recently, it could simply be that you slept on it wrong or turned your neck too hard. That will make this a very temporary condition. You can try some easy stretches for pain relief .

An on-going problem, however, might respond better to some other alternative methods, including:

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  • Slowly moving and stretching your neck. Do not move too quickly or too far. Roll your head from side to side, shoulder to shoulder, to the front and to the back.
  • Ice packs work well for some people, while heat works best for others.
  • Be aware of how you use your cell phone or tablet. If you keep your neck bent downward for too long to look at it, you can develop an annoying pain called text-neck or tech-neck. Take breaks and look up to stretch those neck muscles.
  • Long hours driving can also be hard on the neck. Look from side to side as far as you can, as well as up and down to prevent a stiff neck.

 

Still Have Tight Neck Muscles? 3 Tips for Finding Relief

When tight neck muscles are not responding to the typical heat, ice, or massage treatments, you might want to give the following a try:

1. Gua Sha

This is an ancient Chinese practice that might seem a bit odd, but it works for many people. In this practice, a trained individual uses a spoon or other object and makes short strokes down the neck. It is believed that poor blood circulation causes it to become stagnant, if you will, and blocks the positive energy needed for life, called qi.

Fresh blood will indeed allow oxygen and nutrients to feed the tissues in a given area, and one study found that gua sha worked where traditional methods, such as heat therapy, did not[2].

2. Swimming

You probably know that swimming is a terrific low-impact exercise that works wonders for those with back and knee pain, but did you know that it also works well for neck pain and tight muscles? It helps if the water is tepid and not cold, but even just floating on your back can offer tremendous relief since most of the body weight is suspended by the buoyancy of water.

3. Chiropractic Massage

Not your typical day spa massage, chiropractic massage is performed under the guidance of a chiropractor. A trained massage therapist will still do the massage, but this time, the chiropractor will have discussed your neck pain and any problems you might be having with them. Many people have found real relief from neck pain through chiropractic massage.

The Best Treatment for Neck Pain

When you need to find relief from neck pain and nothing you have tried previously seems to give you more than a few minutes of relief, spending some time with a chiropractor often times can fix this issue, and it doesn’t often return if you follow a healthy lifestyle.

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I’m certain that many of you are thinking about those awful videos with those loud cracking noises you’ve seen on social media, or you are recalling a news story which might have suggested that allowing a chiropractor anywhere near your neck might be a health hazard[3]. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You should try the other suggestions in this article before you head off to the chiropractor, but when all else fails, don’t let neck pain nag you day in and day out. Take steps to make an appointment, and you will be surprised at the results.

What Can a Chiropractor Do for Neck Pain?

Many people mistakenly believe that the only technique a chiropractor will use is a neck adjustment. Chiropractors are trained in a variety of methods that are designed to help you find the pain relief you are seeking.

A few of the methods a chiropractor might use include:

  • Cervical Manual Traction
  • Flexion-Distraction
  • Cervical Mobilization
  • Ultrasound
  • Cervical Drop Technique
  • Trigger Point Therapy

There are many more options, but your chiropractor should explain to you which techniques s/he intends to use and why[4]

The Bottom Line

If neck pain wreaks havoc in your life regularly, the best way to stop it is to identify the source and attack it from that angle.

Getting plenty of exercises, having a proper posture, and buying an office chair that provides plenty of support, as well as a regular stretching program, will keep your neck strong and flexible for many years to come.

More Tips on Healing Neck Pain

Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

Reference

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