Vagus Nerve Hack | Trapezius Twist

Do you have forward head posture or know someone who does? Or maybe you are sitting at your desk all day and you are constantly feeling restricted? Well, if so, this vagus nerve hack is for you. We have Stanley Rosenberg to thank for the ever so simple, trapezius twist.

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Why do you have forward head posture?

Let’s talk about the neurology and physiology of why you might have forward head posture. Here are three key things that can contribute to it.

1. Airway Dysfunction

The decreased tone of the trapezius muscle and increased tone in the SCM muscle is often related to some type of airway dysfunction. This could be just from poor awareness of diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day or it can be related to structural abnormalities. This could be things like a deviated septum, small nasal valves, TMJ or other jaw issues, enlarged tonsils, and more. It can also have inflammation in the airway preventing you to be able to breathe optimally.

2. State of the Nervous System

Posture is your story. It is how you present yourself to the world. It is ultimately a reflection of your past experiences, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and activities of daily living. There are so many things that affect it. If you are in a constant fight/flight or freeze state, that will be reflected in your posture.

For example, if you are in a fight or flight state, you might feel a constant tension in your neck muscles. This means that you are over-breathing in that state and using a lot of your neck muscles to do so. Conversely, if you think of the frozen state where we are shut down, hopeless, and numb, this might lead to more of a rounded posture.

3. Scars

No matter where your scars are in your body, they can directly impact the function of your cranial nerves, autonomic nervous system, emotions, and stabilizing muscles in your neck. Scars can have profound effects even far from where the actual scar is.

In healthy tissue, collagen fibers are normally parallel, but when scar tissue forms the collagen fibers are now perpendicular. The tissue is stronger, but it is not as elastic so it will impede the surrounding or distant muscles.

When To Do Trapezius Twist

Now for the fun part. The trapezius twist is a fantastic exercise to do right after you are sitting for a period of time. If you feel like your head is just leaning forward or you are having a hard time holding your posture, the trapezius twist will activate the trapezius muscles. It is a neural activation that is waking muscles up. You can check your forward head before and after you perform the exercise to see the difference.

How To Perform The Exercise

To perform the exercise, grasp your elbows and twist side to side at waist level for about five seconds. Then move to the chest line for five seconds. Lastly, move above the shoulders for five seconds. Recheck your forward head posture after you finish.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Sphinx

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Sphinx

The sphinx, another powerful vagus nerve hack, can improve your cervical range of motion, thereby increasing blood flow to the brainstem and stimulating the vagus nerve. Let’s briefly review the anatomy, how to perform the exercise, and the implications that it will have for you. Please make sure to check out some of our other vagus nerve hack videos on YouTube so you can explore what works best for you.

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Anatomy

In the meantime, let’s review the vagus nerve. Remember, it is the 10th cranial nerve and it is a paired nerve. It originates from the brainstem, exits anteriorly, and innervates muscles of the throat, heart, digestive tract, and is involved in all of our autonomic functions.

If we have forward head posture and limited cervical range of motion, our cranial nerves are going to be impacted since they exit from the brainstem. We need optimal cranial nerve function so that we can be in a state of social engagement. This means that we are connected, joyful, mindful, and/or grounded. It involves muscles of the face or facial expressions. Again, if our range of motion is limited, then that can impact the functionality of these nerves and thereby how we interact with the world.

Before you begin the exercise I would recommend checking your range of motion. You can start by keeping your head in a stacked position over your body and look all the way to the right and left. How does it feel? Is there pain and/or restriction?

You should be able to get your nose over towards your shoulder while keeping your eyes level, so make sure not to side bend when you perform this.

How To Perform

To perform this exercise, start by lying on your stomach and then prop yourself up to your elbows. From here starting with your head centered, lift your pubic bone off the ground, lift your head gently, and then slowly rotate to the left, holding that position for 30 seconds. Next, come back to the center, and then move to the right and hold that for 30 seconds.

Now that you’ve performed the exercise, you can reassess your range of motion to see how that feels. If it feels better, then that exercise was meant to relax or stimulate cranial nerve XI, the accessory nerve. This will relax your SCM muscle as well as your trapezius muscles. If it didn’t, then that means that there is another problem in another one of the cranial nerves. Just know that there are other exercises that may be more appropriate for you.

This is a developmental position, something we did as babies. When we prop up onto our forearms, it ignites a postural reflex. It is also optimal for reflexive stability. This is a great position, movement, and posture to work from, and even exercise from. If you have a stiff neck, or you experience migraines on a regular basis, then this is a powerful exercise to perform. Make sure to do it as often as you need to help with your symptoms.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

How To Assess and Treat Your Scars

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Pelvic Floor Relaxation

Another great vagus nerve hack that you can do is pelvic floor release and relaxation.

The vagus nerve is integrated with a sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight) almost everywhere in the body, but especially the gut and the pelvis. What’s interesting about the pelvic floor is that we tend to hold so much tension here. This is where we tend to hold our emotions, too.

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Let’s dive into the anatomy. The posterior vagus nerve actually integrates with a network of sympathetic plexus with a network of nerves:

  1. celiac plexus
  2. superior and inferior mesenteric plexi
  3. superior and inferior hypogastric plexi

This plexi actually forms an integrated circuit that moves blood flow in and out of the pelvis, and this is exactly what the autonomic nervous system is all about—moving blood. This network of nerves is where the vagus nerve brings blood to the heart and brain. Lastly, urination, defecation, sexual orgasm all require this complex integration of all of these nerves and blood flow from the pelvis to the rest of the body. In order to do all of those things, we have to feel safe in the bedroom as well as in the bathroom. Safety is the cornerstone of our state of social engagement of the ventral vagal nerve. Check out the video HERE to see how to perform:

1.   Pelvic Floor Release

Sitting on a ball and addressing the pelvic floor musculature is a great way to create this efficient relaxation response. The placement of the ball is behind the pubic bone to address the front of the pelvic floor and then right inside of the buttocks to address the back of the pelvic floor. Sit on the ball and breathe diaphragmatically until you feel a release or relaxation response.

2.   Happy Baby

This is a great relaxation exercise where there are lots of variations. However, you just need to get to a position where you feel very comfortable, and you’re able to inhale into the pelvic floor. When you are inhaling, that’s when the pelvic floor is relaxing and you are opening the pelvic outlet.

3.   Rock on Forearms

Resting on the forearms and knees wide, inhale as you rock back and exhale as you rock slightly forward. Once again, you’re opening up the pelvic outlet, inhaling into the base of the pelvic floor to create that relaxation response.

The pelvic floor is one of the most fascinating connections with the vagus nerve, so it’s a really great way to address this from a chakra standpoint. It tends to be an area for clenching and guarding, and especially for holding emotions.

You can see this intimate relationship with your nervous system and how it could affect you.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Valsava Maneuver

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Neck Release