Correcting Neck Posture: A Key To Pain Relief
For every inch that the head moves forward in posture, it increases the weight of the head on the neck by 10 pounds!
In the example to the left a forward neck posture of 3 inches increases the weight of the head on the neck by 30 pounds and the pressure put on the muscles increases 6 times.
Poor neck posture leads to a Forward Head Position which is one of the most common causes of neck, head and shoulder tension and pain. This can be a result of injuries like sprains and strains of the neck leading to weak neck muscles, poor sleeping positions and the illustrated examples of driving stress, computer neck, couch neck and readers neck along with improper breathing habits.
Long term abnormal neck posture leads to muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis, pinched nerves and instability. Poor health can result from stretching of the spinal cord. A major part of head, neck, jaw and shoulder pain is due to poor posture including fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, temporomandibular joint dysfunction and chronic fatigue syndromes.
The extra pressure on the neck from altered posture flattens the normal curve of the cervical spine resulting in abnormal strain of muscles, ligaments, bones and joints of the neck causing the joints to deteriorate faster than normal resulting in degenerative joint disease or neck arthritis as indicated in an article published in the Spine Journal, recognized internationally as the leading journal in its field and the leading subspecialty journal for the treatment of spinal disorders, 1986;6:591-694.
Effects Of Poor Neck Posture
The effects of poor posture goes far beyond just looking awkward. In fact according to the January 1994 issue of the American Journal of Pain Management, Posture and function are related in that poor posture is evident in patients with chronic pain related conditions including lower back pain, neck related headaches, and stress-related illnesses. Posture affects and moderates every function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by poor posture.
|Some Common Causes of Poor Neck Posture|
According to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter Vol. 18, #3, March 2000, the effects of long term forward neck posture leads to “long term muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves.”
Correction of poor neck posture is key to stopping and reversing the decay and degenerative disc disease that neck structures undergo and the pain that can result including neck pain, headaches and pain between the shoulders. When the spinal tissues are subject to significant pressure for long periods of time, they deform and undergo a remodeling in which these changes can become permanent. This is why it takes time and a concerted effort using multiple techniques to correct the poor neck posture condition.
An article in the Chinese Journal Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 2009 Jun;31(3):381-2 indicates that abnormal neck posture is associated with sympathetic symptom of degeneration which may include; headaches, abnormal functions of the eyes and the ears, and psychological and mental disorders.
Self Test for Neck Posture Problems: The Wall Test – Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard. With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your neck and the wall. If you can get within two inches at the neck, you are close to having good posture. If not, your neck posture is protruding forward and is subject to deterioration of the joints and discs. The Home Neck Traction can help this problem.
According to the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, September 2-6, 2009; “Over time poor posture results in pain, muscle aches, tension and headache and can lead to long term complications such as osteoarthritis. Physiological and biomechanical stress due to sustained postures limit important musculoskeletal stimuli that are essential for normal musculoskeletal development”.
Neck Posture Solutions:
Awareness of the correct neck and shoulder posture is the beginning of correction. Do the wall test as described above. You can check someone you care about by standing straight and having them look up at the ceiling, down at the floor and then straight ahead. Picture an imaginary line through the center of the shoulder and up to the head. The line should land through the middle of the ear.
A great way to start correcting poor neck posture is the neck exercises which are designed to help gain control over postural neck muscles which have become weak and fatigued over time. There are some great exercise equipment to help with neck exercises.
For office use and video game play, place your computer monitor height so that the top third of the screen is even with your eyes and the screen is 18-24 inches from your face.
Take frequent breaks. If you sit for long periods, take frequent breaks, even if only for 30 seconds to get up or do the neck exercises. Pull your head over your shoulders and squeeze the blades of your shoulders together in the back.
Always use a back support pillow when sitting or driving. By supporting the back, the head and neck will move back over the shoulders. If you have difficulty finding a back support that works for you, the Active Seat Cushion can help activate certain muscles to help support better sitting posture and prevent muscle fatigue. The Active Seat cushion creates a user controlled level of instability to activate muscles which improve posture and can reduce forward head posture. In the journal Work. Volume 36, Number 1 / 2010, an article titled “Effect of different seat support characteristics on the neck and trunk muscles and forward head posture of visual display terminal workers”, indicates an unstable seat cushion relaxes neck muscles and improves posture better than a spongy soft-cushion seat support. The article further states that this type of seat cushion may prevent work-related neck and upper limb disorders associated with forward head posture.
Many backpacks are improperly designed and cause the head to move forward to compensate for weight in the back. Make sure you and/or your kids use properly designed backpacks that distribute weight evenly and help to prevent strain that begins the process of poor neck posture.
According to the international journal Cephalalgia. 2009 Feb;29(2):250-7., “We found a concerning association between neck pain and high hours of computing for school students, and have confirmed the need to educate new computer users (school students) about appropriate ergonomics and postural health.”
Another article in the journal Cephalalgia. 2009 Feb 2. [Epub ahead of print], it was noted in regard to Respiratory Dysfunction In Chronic Neck Pain Patients; … “the study demonstrated a strong association between an increased forward head posture and decreased respiratory muscle strength in neck patients.”
The use of specialized equipment like home traction devices are essential to and effective in restoring the normal curve of the neck. This can greatly enhance the process to posture recovery. According to The Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation. 1994 9(1):19-23 in an article regarding the relationship of changes in neck posture in patients with neck pain; as neck pain patients had the normal neck curve restored over a twelve week period, improvements were noted in all measurements of clinical symptoms. The patient’s improvement as indicated by the Visual Analog Scale, Neck Disability Index, and Pain Pressure Algometry correlated with an increase in the degree of curvature of the cervical spine.
Choosing a supportive neck pillow is very important since we spend about a third of our time sleeping. This time can be used to help your neck posture rather than hurt it with the proper neck pillow support.
If you have a chronic condition like arthritis, cartilage enhancing supplements like membrell joint health should also be a part of your long term approach to correcting poor neck posture.
Additionally, I highly recommend chiropractic care and you should not hesitate to see one as proper adjustments of the neck joints have proven benefit.
At NeckSolutions, we hope to provide some quality advice and neck pain relief products so that you should be able to effect enough change over a period of time to correct these problems.