Neck pain? Check your Posture
It is estimated that 70 percent of individuals will experience neck pain at some point in their life.1 Yet many of those individuals have no idea that the cause of their pain is related to their posture. Everyday we sit at desks, or drive in our cars, or spend time looking down as we text on our phones. The amount of time we spend in poor positions directly affects our posture and in return our health.
The position of your head in relation to the rest of your body directly affects and changes the structures in your neck. When the posture of your neck is not aligned with the rest of your body this puts stress on the structures of the neck, such as the muscles and joints of the spine. A common postural distortion pattern in our population is lateral deviation of the neck. Meaning the neck is positioned further to one side of the body than is normal. This changes the position of the spine, adding extra stress to the nerves, muscles, joints and even blood vessels that are located there. It takes approximately 18 muscles to hold your head up. These muscles are effective in doing this when they are in the correct position. As we change the position of the neck and head we begin to change the position of the muscles. This causes some to be stretched too far and weakened; others are contracted and cause pain. In both situations the strain of improper posture on the neck causes pain that can start in the neck, but can quickly begin to radiate down the upper part of the back as well as into the head causing headaches and migraines.
Your sitting position is giving you bad posture.
Our body is a perfectly functioning machine. However, when we place continual stress on certain parts of the body it begins to degenerate or compensate for those patterns. We call these postural distortion patterns. As you read this article on your phone or computer, what is your posture? Are you slouching forward with your shoulders rounded? Are you looking downward to read the screen? Is your back straight or rounded? Your posture habits every day make up your posture. If you have poor postural hygiene your body will compensate and you will have bad posture. Bad posture leads to many health problems ranging from neck/back pain, headaches, to high blood pressure, and even early death. Maintaining good posture is not just about looking better, although it does, it is about maintaining health and wellness.
Check your pictures for bad posture.
How do you know if you have improper posture of your neck? Look at a picture of your self from the front. If you can take a straight edge and place it in the middle of the picture. That line should run through the middle of your feet, chest, neck, nose, and eyes. If there are points that are not aligned correctly this means that the structure of your body, your posture, is not correct. This may be causing the health issues you are experiencing, and most likely will cause further problems in the future if not corrected. To find out exactly how your posture is affecting your health, have your Posture Diagnosis Online from the American Posture Institute as americanpostureinstitute.com
3 Tips to correct your posture.
- Place a posture reminder at your work station
- Use a small object or sticker as your reminder to maintain good posture. Good posture is about strengthening your posture muscles, this happens as you work at sitting straight and keeping core muscles contracted.
- Stretch your neck muscles
- Tight muscles of the neck will cause compensation of your posture. By stretching your neck muscles you can help to increase the motion in your neck, and improve your posture.
- Align the Spine
- Lay on your side and place a cushion, or pillow under your neck, the side that is not aligned correctly. Based on your picture if your neck/head position is more on the right, lay on your right side with the cushion under your neck. Allow your head to flex/hang down. This will help move the position of your neck into proper spinal alignment. Do this for 5 minutes once a day.
By correcting the posture of the neck many individuals will find relief from their neck pain and headaches.1 Simply improving your posture can improve your health.
For more information on how your posture may be causing your health problems, how to stay healthy through proper posture, or for more ways to improve your posture contact Dr. Mark Wade at : API@americanpostureinstitute.com or find more information like this at www.americanpostureinstitute.com
- Conservative methods for reducing lateral translation postures of the head. Harrison, Deed E;Cailliet, Rene;Betz, Joseph;Haas, Jason W;et al Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development; Jul/Aug 2004; 41, 4; ProQuest Medical Library pg. 631