Can Poor Posture Cause Neck Pain?
Written by Magda Bispo, Chiropractor at Wellbeing Chiropractic, based in East Hunsbury, Northampton.
When it comes to the neck, how do you define ‘poor posture’?
As a Chiropractor I see many people with Forward Head Posture, which means the head is in front of the body. Please look around you the next time you are shopping or in a restaurant and you will see that this is a common condition, particularly with the younger generation, who spend an ever increasing amount of time looking down at their mobile phones, tablets or game consoles. You can see that their upper back is arched forward and the shoulders become rounded. In some cases this position can be maintained for several hours at a time throughout the day. In the UK the average age when a child receives their first mobile phone is around 10 years old, with some as young as 5 years old! This is cause for concern on many different levels, but as a Chiropractor I am interested in the affect this has on the posture, the spine and nervous system over the long term.
It is a similar situation when you venture into the workplace, especially for those sitting at a desk, who can be sedentary for long periods of time, even with the correct workstation set up within ergonomic guidelines, you still need to be fully aware of your posture throughout the day and try to avoid any bad habits, because in times of stress or tiredness the posture can change significantly.
The ideal position for your head should be with the neck upright, not angled forward, and the head sat on the neck like a golf ball on a tee. In this position the natural curvature of the bones in the neck act like a spring to absorb the pressure and weight of the head.
It is worth bearing in mind that for every inch your head is positioned forward, you are adding approx 10 pounds (4.5kg) of force on the neck, therefore looking down at your mobile phone or slouching at your desk causes a large amount of stress on the joints and soft tissue around the neck. Over time this can cause biomechanical changes, because the vertebrae are constantly remodelling depending on the forces placed upon them, regardless of your age.
Therefore having poor posture will eventually result in the bones growing in order to support this new posture, which can result in bone spurs (extra bone growth) and a change to/or loss of the natural curvature in the cervical spine. Over time the joints will degenerate, which will reduce the range of motion in the neck and place more pressure on the nerves, leading to neck pain, pins and needles or numbness in the arms and hands, and headaches.
So how does it work? Well our head becomes heavier; the muscles of the neck and shoulders are overworked as poor posture and gravity combine to draw your head downwards. As a result, the shoulders and thoracic spine (between the shoulder blades) round forward, it doesn’t sound too good does it? Well it doesn’t look too good either. Over time the joints of the spine degenerate, the discs dehydrate and this can causes an interference in the nervous system as pressure is placed on the nerves where they exit the spine. This can lead to a multitude of different signs and symptoms, which is the body trying to tell you there is a problem.
I still remember as a child, walking around the school corridor with a book balanced on my head, we were constantly being told to sit upright by teachers, parents and grandparents, but now this doesn’t seem to be the case, and as a result the human posture is now starting to change. We need to realise that a healthy spine leads to a healthy body, and good posture is one of the key components to maintaining a healthy spine.
Tension headaches, restricted neck movement or pain and stiffness in the neck, should be something to avoid at all cost. If you suffer with these issues, or you know someone who has Forward Head posture and you would like to check this out, then you should visit a Chiropractor.
Spinal adjustments can remove the misalignment in the spine that is causing interference in the nervous system; at the same time reducing symptoms, improving the function of your spine and your posture, which prevents further damage.
Say NO to ‘Text Neck’ now.
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