Pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulder area often stems from poor postural alignment of the neck and head. An example is forward head and neck posture. This is evident in many people. When you look at someone’s posture from the side, do they look slumped? Is the head forward of the shoulder? This is a recipe for neck and shoulder area pain!
Think about it this way, the head is like a bowling ball, it weighs about 12 pounds. If I asked you to hold a bowling ball way out in front of your chest with your arms extended, it is very hard, and your arms fatigue very fast. However, if I allow you to hold the bowling ball close to your chest with the arms bent, you have better leverage with the weight in close. You can hold the ball comfortably for much longer. Can you imagine that? Now think if your 12 pound head is slumped forward, in front of your shoulders. The same principle is at play, the weight of the head puts tremendous pressure on the muscles of the upper back and neck as they struggle to get the weight to return to a normal postural position. This creates neck pain, muscle tension and fatigue in the neck, upper back and shoulders.
This abnormal postural misalignment must be fixed for you to attain long term pain free correction of the problem. If the problem has been there for a long time it is harder to fix. The amount the the head and neck is shifted forward also can come into play on how easy it is to fix. Trauma such as a whiplash injury from an auto accident can cause forward head posture, but even more common is prolonged stressful activity such as sitting at the computer.
Think about the amount of time we spend on the laptop, at our desk at work, sitting in the car in traffic, watching TV, reading, gaming, texting, all with the head slumped forward! Don’t you think we may need to be pro-active in trying to correct this?
Here is the key to correcting this forward head posture and reducing the associated neck and shoulder area pain and tension. Since the much of this posture misalignment is caused by the repetative stress of sitting slumped forward at work etc… We need to repetitively stretch and reposition the posture back toward normal.
This stretching can be easy to start with and advanced to a higher level of stretching as you progress.
Each person is individual, as is their postural distortion and misalignment. In some cases logical stretching can fix the problem. In other cases NUCCA Chiropractic care coupled with exercise may be needed. It all depends on the problem, how long it has been developing, a person’s age etc…
In the following video we describe a basic stretch that will help with forward head posture. This stretch is easy to implement for most people. Most people love this stretch! When do you get a chance to just lay down and relax? There are postural distortions chronic enough to make this exercise too hard for some people, so always check with your NUCCA Chiropractor or health care provider to see if this is right for you.
If it is difficult for you to allow your head to lay on the floor, or it is painful, you will need to consult your NUCCA Chiropractor or health care provider. At our office we coach our patients individually on how to work on correcting this posture. Although we cannot coach someone over the internet, I still want you to have the general idea that there are beneficial postural positions that can reverse the damage of forward head and neck posture.
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