One of the best things that my pain psychologist, Blake Tierman, taught me was to stretch 5 times a day, and more so, as often as I could. I figured out later that, all through the previous four to five years, I had significant myofascial pain. It was another layer on top of my all ready painful neck. What was worse is that I was catastrophizing my muscle pains in my neck as evidence that my non-union was worse. I would barely move them for fear of wrecking my neck even more.
I became so tight to the point that I could not even touch the muscles on the left side of my neck. I was taking more pain medication to deal with the pain I was causing myself by trying to be active and still hold onto those activities I thought I still should be able to do. Furthermore, the pain medication I took everyday was not allowing the signals of muscle injury to be interpreted as pain in my mind, so that I was very frequently causing further muscle (myofacial) injury and therefore, more pain.
It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken at one or two points. Those two basic points are stretching and correct behaviors based on rational judgement (STEP FOUR). My own dog stretches about 14 times a day! You can too, at least 3-5 times a day. Most patients have barely stretched as an activity prior to getting injured. Even for the Pain Patient, it is something that quickly gets dropped, even after being seen by a physical therapist and having been taught what to do.
I can not emphasize too much the importance of and the rewards gained by stretching painful muscles. This decreases pain and does other important things as well. It is what athletes do. It WILL improve myofascial pain to a significant degree, and remove that layer in the pain matrix. IT IS JUST AS EFFECTIVE AS A COUPLE OF PAIN PILLS, AND CAN REDUCE ONE'S PAIN LEVEL BY 20-30% OR MORE. But it must be done on a daily basis and several times per day. This is Rusty, one of the best dogs I have ever had. He stretches everytime he gets up and he is very athletic.