Researchers at University of Leeds, UK, have found a direct neural connection between neck muscles and a part of the brain stem (called the nucleus tractus solitarius), which plays a crucial role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. (The Journal of Neuroscience)

This finding could explain why blood pressure and heart rate sometimes change when the neck muscles are injured – through whiplash, for example. Similarly, it is possible that hours spent hunched over a computer may raise blood pressure.

Tense neck muscles also can be a cause of headaches and migraines.

If your neck muscles are tense, I urge you to address this:

1. Stretch regularly, observe your posture
2. Get your partner to massage your shoulders frequently
3. Acupuncture (has long term effect relaxing neck muscles)
4. Gentle manipulation (to correct the posture and to prevent the muscles tensing up)

The most rigorous to date randomised trial on acupuncture and hypertension confirmed that acupuncture significantly reduced the blood pressure in hypertension patients.
The controlled trial was completed in Germany by Dr Frank A Flachskampf and his team (Universitätsklinikum Erlangen) and was published June 4, 2007 (Circulation 2007; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.661140).

Acupuncture is as effective as the pills for hypertension. However, if you don’t like the short term side-effects of the pills, fear the long-term harm they can cause, acupuncture is a great safe alternative. Furthermore, you will experience some additional benefits. You will feel more relaxed, sleep better, your concentration and productivity will improve etc, etc.