What does chronic muscle tension and pain have to do with the Vagus Nerve?

My back is always tight!
These headaches keep plaguing me!

Your vagus nerve is often at the root of your chronically tight muscles, which can lead to feeling tight, pain, stiffness and other things like headaches. This chronic tension can be anywhere in your body, but most commonly it’s in the back, neck, shoulder or hips. If you free that tension, then you’ll feel much more relaxed. Blood flow will improve to your arms, hands, legs and feet, which will further help you feel good in your own skin and reduce or eliminate the symptoms of headaches.

Since I first posted in June 2022 about a simple exercise to re-balance the vagus nerve, I’ve been experimenting. I also have discovered a new technique for targeting muscle “knots”, which I will post about in the future.

Today’s video isn’t simply a re-post of the 2022 post on the vagus nerve. It’s a better explanation of why you have chronic muscle tension and how to release it on your own.

While this video is longer than most I post here, you don’t need to watch the whole thing, though I hope you do as there is a lot of good stuff in it. If you’re already familiar with the vagus nerve and simply want to learn the exercise, you can skip to minute marker 4:23.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Jason- thank you for sending this. I’ve been doing the exercise since I saw you last. What I notice first- both when I was at your office and when I do on my own – is that my breathing immediately goes to my belly! That in itself is a good thing. I think of body regulation when that happens. I followed your video today and noticed a couple of things. One, that you went to the left again after doing right, left. And you didn’t repeat the right. I have only been practicing right, left. Should I be going left again and not repeating on the right? Seemed to add relaxation. Today I noticed my arms w hands clasped under my head became much more relaxed- and elbows moved more towards the floor than how they were partially up when i started. then when I stood up, I had a huge swoosh of energy that went from mid-back up- I think- or was it down? a wave of sensation – a good release of something. I’ve been trying it periodically- before exercise in the pool, once in the pool floating on my back and also before bed. I appreciate this practice and believe it is a bit of a game changer :). Thank you!

    1. Hi Melinda – Good noticings! Yes, balancing/releasing the vagus nerve can lead to all sorts of healthy body regulation. It’s like the captain of a ship who can keep the ship from leaning too far left or right and to be resilient to come back to a centered place.

      As for what you noticed in the video, that’s not required. I had intended to only go right and left once each side, but apparently I was enjoying the exercise so much that I did the left side a second time. No harm in doing so. Perhaps that was what my own body needed as I recorded the video. At some point I will record a new video so it doesn’t lead to confusion.

      You can certainly do each side more than once, but once to each side is plenty. What I love about this release exercise is that it is SO SIMPLE and yet so effective. It doesn’t take years of studying a specialized thing (like tai chi or qigong) to get so much immediate benefit. Your nervous system is already encoded with this “reset button” and the eye movement, with a little patience to wait for the release, works extremely well.

    2. Hi again Melinda – I watched the exercise again to look for the part where you noticed I go to the left again (but don’t repeat on the right again). I don’t see it. What this suggests to me is that you personally needed to go to the left again and so you did, unconsciously. Which means you did the exercise “correctly” because you were following your body’s own impulses rather than following my instructions exactly.

      The instructions that Stanley Rosenberg has given us I think are very good ones. But they are like a map and you may interpret the map differently than someone else. As you practice this exercise more and more, you are sure to find additional ways to add nuances to the exercise that are helpful for you to experience new releases in your body. I will be sharing more about “variations on the theme” of this exercise in the future.

      Thanks again for your comment, as I am sure you’re not the only one to see or hear things differently. Just yesterday, a friend asked if I had yet clicked the link he had sent me. I didn’t know what link he was referring to. I looked again at our text thread and sure enough, it was right there and I had simply not seen it earlier! And I’m so glad he nudged me about it, because what he had sent me was something I was very interested in.

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