Daily Exercises to Alleviate Cervical Dystonia

Joaquin Farias PHD, MA, MS

Engaging in daily exercises, particularly Body Scans, is crucial for individuals dealing with cervical dystonia. This targeted approach helps significantly reduce pain and tension by relaxing overworked muscles and restoring balance. By methodically focusing on areas of tightness from head to toe and consciously releasing them, these exercises provide a tangible way to alleviate the symptoms of cervical dystonia, highlighting the effectiveness of daily practice in easing the condition's impact on everyday life.

Understanding the Impact of Muscle Types on Dystonia

Dystonia affects various muscle groups in distinct ways, leading to symptoms ranging from weakness to excessive rigidity. Among these, hypotonic muscles are weak and lack tension, while hypertonic muscles are overly tense, compensating for the hypotonic muscles’ weakness. Furthermore, compensatory muscles, though not directly affected by dystonia, become overworked as they try to support the dystonic muscles, often resulting in soreness and pain.

The Role of Body Scans in Muscle Relaxation

Body Scans are a critical tool in identifying and relaxing compensatory muscles, thereby contributing to a more balanced muscle activity across the body. This relaxation technique helps reduce rigidity and synchronizes bodily functions, aiding in the recovery process.

Example Exercise: Performing a Body Scan

A Body Scan involves a mindful examination of one’s body to identify and relax tense areas. Starting at the head and moving down to the toes, you focus on each part of the body, paying close attention to any tension. Upon detecting tightness, engage in deep abdominal breathing while mentally repeating the word “Calm”. As you exhale, focus on the tense area, mentally instructing it to “Let Go, Relax”. This process encourages the muscles to soften, promoting relaxation and aiding in the reduction of dystonic symptoms.

For instance, if during the Body Scan you notice your shoulders are clenched, take a moment to breathe deeply into your abdomen, slowly repeating “Calm”. As you exhale, concentrate on the shoulders, mentally commanding them to relax. This intentional focus can help melt away tension, allowing for a more relaxed state.

Integrating Body Scans into Everyday Life

The flexibility of Body Scans allows for their incorporation into daily routines, whether during moments of rest or activity. This adaptability ensures ongoing support for recovery efforts, enabling individuals to pursue a normal lifestyle alongside their rehabilitation exercises.

Maintaining Balance While Living with Dystonia

It’s essential to weave recovery exercises into the fabric of everyday life, allowing for enjoyment and fulfillment beyond the condition’s constraints. Emphasizing “free time” without rigid rules helps maintain a balance between dedicated recovery efforts and the pleasures of daily life, underscoring the importance of a holistic approach to managing Cervical Dystonia.

Conclusion: Empowerment Through Mindful Practice

Body Scans offer a potent strategy for those seeking relief from Cervical Dystonia, providing a path to relax tight muscles and achieve a balanced state. By embracing this practice, individuals can navigate their condition with greater ease, fostering an empowered approach to recovery and overall well-being.

This exercise has been taken from Dr. Farias’ Dystonia Recovery Program for Dystonia.

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