The most common misaligned postural pattern in the neck that will result in neck pain, stiffness and lack of mobility is forward head carriage. This is when the head posture is forward of the shoulders and almost always reveals loss of the normal neck alignment or curvature.
In the neck spine we should have a well defined neck C-curve of approximately 40-60 degrees. Anything less and there is unwanted pressure on the nerves. Pain is often a sign that there is pressure on the nervous system but not all of that system is designed to feel pain so you may be pain free yet still have improper alignment.
With people today, more than ever we are seeing a misaligned neck posture of the neck curve flattening or straightening and protruding out forward. One of the reasons is that more and more people these days are on computers for long hours. Many jobs now require you to be on a computer continually, and even the people without a desk job are on the computer for hours on end; nights, weekends, mornings, you name it.
Also, more people are on the road driving. When driving, the majority of people’s heads, over the time traveling, drift forward. Some people are affected worse than others. Just recently I looked to my left while at a light and the woman next to me had both hands on the wheel with what looked like a death grip, and she just looked like her muscles were extremely tense and her head was about 6 inches forward of her shoulders. These are just a couple examples, others are: Poor sleeping habits, holding a phone on your shoulder for long periods, reading or studying with your head down often, etc...
Guilty of some of these examples or often suffer from neck pain?
Here's how to improve your neck posture-
- Postural exercises for the neck
- Eliminating bad posture as much as possible
- A good support neck pillow for sleeping.
These to do's all help correct and maintain the proper alignment of the spine. Our spines are ergonomically built to withstand the forces of gravity. When looking at an individual from the front or back, the spine is straight should be up and down. From the side however we have distinct curvatures that are there for a reason – so our spinal cord is relaxed with no tension and our nerve roots coming off the spinal cord have no pressure and interference. Our spine is at it’s strongest position with this alignment as well. And don’t forget, why is it important we are in optimal alignment? Not only because it is the most beneficial for strength of our spine but because it is the healthiest position as well. Putting any pressure on nerves will decrease the bodies ability to perform at it’s maximum. Any pressure on nerves decreases your body's function and therefore health.
The best postural exercise to eliminate forward head posture are Head Retractions. Pretend your head is on a sliding track and pull your head back keeping it level. For example sit fully back against a wall or chair pull your head straight back without tilting or extending your head until you touch the wall, top of chair or headrest in your car.
Eliminate forward head posture as much as possible. Notice if your head is drifting forward; usually you may feel strain in the muscles of the back of your neck. Read with books propped up against something, take periodic breaks when working on the computer or driving for long periods. Sit up staighter, and keep your head up-right.
At night, you can not only protect yourself from poor posture but also can literally improve it as well, while you sleep. If you use a good support pillow like the Cervical Linear Traction Neck Pillow you can correct neck posture while resting comfortably. Sleeping on your back or side is perfectly fine. Stomach sleeping is not good because you have to crank your head to on side or another to breathe. Individuals who commonly sleep on their stomachs will find themselves waking up often with a sore, stiff, painful neck.
Be more aware of your posture. Poor posture means a poor spine and therefore pressure on nerves that will not only just cause neck pain but can cause other problems as well. The easiest way to start improving neck pain and neck posture is to use the proper neck pillow. The Cervical Linear Traction Pillow can be found at www.arc4life.com.
Dr Matt Bellinger is a Chiropractor in Connecticut. He has written many articles on how to easily and naturaly relieve pain, and has helped hundred of patients in his clinic end their neck and back pain. Visit Dr. Bellinger's Site at www.ctbackdr.com.