Using Music To Relax With Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Well, it sure has been awhile. Unfortunately, I have been on a restricted computer diet since the end of July. I have had to pick and choose the computer projects necessary and unfortunately the blog had to go on a little vacation.

What was the cause of this medically imposed computer vacation? I have something called Thoracic outlet syndrome. Some people refer to it by its nickname – TOS.

“Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a syndrome involving compression at the superior thoracic outlet resulting from excess pressure placed on a neurovascular bundle passing between the anterior scalene and middle scalene muscles. It can affect one or more of the nerves that innervate the upper limb and/or blood vessels as they pass between the chest and upper extremity, specifically in the brachial plexus, the subclavian artery, and, rarely, the subclavian vein, which does not usually pass through the scalene hiatus.

TOS may result from a positional cause, for example, by abnormal compression from the clavicle (collarbone) and shoulder girdle on arm movement. There are also several static forms, caused by abnormalities, enlargement, or spasm of the various muscles surrounding the arteries, veins, and/or brachial plexus, a fixation of a first rib, or a cervical rib.”

Otherwise, in non-medical terms, your chest is collapsing down (or compressing) this section (brachial plexus) that houses a bundle of nerves and blood vessels and that compression cuts off their access.

And let me tell you, IT SUCKS!

For me TOS caused my arm to weaken, my fingers to feel like they were jammed, and pretty much like I was being electrocuted from the nerves firing all the way down my arm. It caused me to lose my appetite which then rollercoastered into all sorts of other issues.

I developed crazy food sensitivities. Foods with gluten or any foods with chemicals were causing me to break out in hives and impair my speech.

To keep it short and straightforward, three and half months later I am finally on the road to recovery.

It is an ongoing process but I now physically have more good days than bad days.

  • I have to be constantly mindful of my ingrained habits and change some pretty major things:
  • I can’t live in front of my computer for 8+ hours a day as I normally do designing musical spaces
  • I have had to incorporate multiple short 3-minute breaks into the day to lay on the hardwood floor to let my shoulder drop instead of curving over
  • I have had to incorporate massage therapy
  • I’m having bi-weekly Kinesiology tape applied
  • I have implemented the Feldenkrais method
  • I have removed all chemicals and gluten from my diet
  • I have to constantly step away from my computer and move
  • Applying the Alexander technique
  • I now incorporate something called vegetables into my diet
  • Had to become hypersensitive to my posture

I have to keep my head in line with my shoulders instead of my head forward in front of my chest as most of us do when at a computer. Come to discover that is how my neck is when I walk, drive, sit, read, and even sleep. I am pretty sure I am going to grow up and have the most pristine posture, EVAH!

One of the most beneficial things for me has been laying down on the wood floor in the evening. It was essential to not become stimulated at night because over-stimulation caused my muscles to tighten and made sleep very difficult. Being tired the next day made my posture worse. So it was a vicious cycle for a while until I figured it out.

After figuring this relaxation thing out, I would take a hot shower in the evening and then lie still on the hardwood floor trying to relax every muscle in my body and let my bones sink into the ground.

It is not the easiest thing for me to turn my mind off.

I am a super sensitive person so every sound, sight or feeling that came in front of me would ultimately draw my attention towards it and would lead me to start “thinking” about things I was associating with that sound, sight or touch.

Feeling the fan blowing on my face my mind would think, “huh, wonder if I ever turned those fans, so they are rotating in the opposite direction for summer vs. winter.”

Hearing a loud car go by I would think, “I should set a reminder about the trashcan pick up via Siri.”

The cat coming to nudge my face, “I wonder when the animal’s shots are coming up.”

This is how my over-reactive mind process things.

It works a lot, sometimes almost nonstop.

And I needed to relax, but I couldn’t seem to focus on letting go of my muscles.

So, guess what I did?

I took my own advice from my years of research and work, and I FOUND ME SOME MUSIC!

I knew it was important to keep my attention focused on one thing. Yet, at the same time, I had to block out all the other things. So I decided sound was going to be my best solution and using music to relax with Thoracic outlet syndrome was my best bet.

In meditation, you sometimes focus on a one-word chant or on one thought. When your thoughts wander, expert meditators tell you to gently bring yourself back to that one word or one thought to focus and let go of everything else.

Well, I found what worked and is still working for me today.

The music I found has an underlying resonant sound that drones solidly and at the same time moves gently to draw your attention without becoming distracting.

Our brain gets drawn into sound in a way that becomes somewhat stimulated by anticipating or an attempt to predict what is coming next therefore engaging.

What I’ve been using is Chakra Meditation Specialists – Chakra Healing and Balancing.

Now I’m not an expert on Chakras, their purpose or their use but I do know the foundation. This is about the music, not the Chakras.

The way the sustained sounds move up in scale probably aligns with how the Chakras move from the lower part of your body up to your head.

Nonetheless, I found this music to be perfect for my relaxation regardless of how they align with my Chakras.

If you have the need to super relax for physical or mental health, and find yourself unable to sit still or truly relax, I recommend using the music from this album and see if it will also help you. I’ve been using this music since August and am still using it. It has really helped me stay focused to train my mind to let go.

Below are links to check it out on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.

Spotify:    Chakra Meditation Specialists – Chakra Healing and Balancing – Your Body,Your Mind and Your Soul

iTunes:    Chakra Healing and Balancing – Your Body, Your Mind and Your Soul – Chakra Meditation Specialists

Amazon: Chakra Healing and Balancing – Your Body,Your Mind and Your Soul