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Why is Neck Posture Important
Your neck muscles do many actions everyday. For example:
- your head and neck muscles allow you to check your blind spot by turning your head
- You extend your head back while getting a shampoo at your hair salon
- You look down to read the paper or read a novel
Each of the muscles in your neck performs multiple functions. For example, the Splenius Capitus which is located in the back of your neck rotates your head from one side to the other and it also allows you to extend your head.
Believe it or not there are exercises that one can do to strengthen the neck muscles.
Neck posture is very important. Bad neck posture can cause neck muscles to be strained, especially if this neck posture is chronic. Also doing something that would cause your neck to be in a compromised position can cause a stiff neck
, tight shoulder muscles and a trapezius that hurts at the gentlest touch.
Pillows Recommended for Improving Posture
Having Proper Posture can Aid in Neck Pain Relief
In the last few years computers have become a part of everyday life. This new age of high tech has come with its share of maladies: People whose jobs require them to sit for prolonged periods of time in one position- often at the computer. This type of a position can put a lot of stress on the cervical spine including tight muscles, stiff neck and other neck pain. Simply by adhering to a few rules about how to set up your workstation can make a big difference in having neck pain relief.
"Deviations in the body's center of gravity caused poor posture, which resulted in intestinal problems, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, osteoporosis, hip and foot deformities, poor health, decreased quality of life, and a shortened life span."
-Freeman JT., Posture in the Aging and Aged Body, JAMA 1957; 165(7), pp 843-846 JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Get the C Curve Back with a Neck Traction Unit
What Should be the Proper Position of Your Neck?
Sitting at a desk, interacting with a computer and telephone can put a lot of stress on your neck. We can combat certain postures, there would be a lot of happier people with less neck pain at the end of the day. When working at a computer desk keep in mind these two points about the position of your neck:
- You have a natural C curve in your neck- it is called a Lordotic curve. This curve should always be maintained. Not having the proper cervical curve can lead to chronic neck pain, stiff neck, upper shoulder stiffness and other symptoms.
- Your neck has an impressive flexibility to it- you are able to flex, extend, rotate and laterally flex- and you should give your neck the chance to be flexible. Movement is life and it is the same with then neck; if you don't rotate or turn your neck, it will stop turning- because you are not using the neck muscles natural ability to turn. If you are working at a computer, make sure you take multiple breaks so that you can move your head around and change position. This is very important to maintain neck flexibility. That is a reason why neck exercises are important and taking breaks (even for 10 seconds!).
One Way to Improve Neck Posture and Relieve Headaches
Why is the C Curve in the Neck So Important?
Your body works through a central computer. This computer is the brain. Essentially, messages travel from the brain down your spinal cord, and out the nerves to all parts of the body. The spinal cord is an extension of the brain. When our spine is in our normal, relaxed position, everything is working. Now, if we take out any curvature in the spine, we have a problem. This would be analogous to taking a relaxed rubber band and elongating it until you feel the resistance.
"Loss of Cervical Curve stretches the spinal cord 5-7 cm and causes disease"
-Dr.A.Brieg, Neuro-Surgeon (Nobel Prize Receipent)
So, a nice “C” curve in the cervical spine equals a relaxed spinal cord. Elongating it out straight equals tension. This tension causes stress to the cord, and therefore inhibits nervous system function, which leads to neck problems. Many of us automatically think pain!, but this isn’t always the case. Neck issues or problems may mean headache, it may mean arm pain, maybe even mid-back problems. There are many unfortunate possibilities. The severity of the neck issue may depend on the amount of tension on the cord or tension on the nerves. Dr. Brieg actually won the Nobel Prize years ago because he proved how the loss of cervical curve can stretch the cord 5-7 cm and cause disease.
What is your Neck Looking Like?
Forward Head Posture is A Common Neck Posture
Forward head posture, also known as forward head carriage
is a common neck posture that is seen quite a bit, but often overlooked in terms of a cause for neck pain. Check your neck posture: To analyze your own head and neck, look at your side profile in the mirror or have someone else look at it. Do you ears align with your shoulders?
Normal head posture is when the ears should be directly above the shoulders. Believe it not, your head weighs approximately 8 lbs. If your ears and shoulders align this 8 lb weight is balanced and causes minimal stress on the neck spine. If you have forward head posture, it can put a lot of stress on the cervical spine joints, and cervical nerves such as C6, and C7. Over time, this can lead to arthritis
and degenerative changes
to the cervical spine. The lower neck is where the nerves exit that innervates your neck muscles, upper back and shoulders, arms and hands. These degenerative changes in the lower neck can cause numbness and tingling in the arms and hands. Forward head posture can be one reason for neck pain, stiff neck or tight neck muscles.
For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.
-Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3
FHP aka Forward Head Posture
How often have you seen a person whose head just sticks out, to the point that their head is way over their body, to the point that "something" looks abnormal? This is called forward head posture, or anterior head carriage
? According to Kapandji (author of Physiology of the Joints, Volume III), for every one inch that your head moves forwards, it gains 10 pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your upper back and neck are concerned. This means that they have to work that much harder to keep the head (chin) from dropping onto your chest. This also forces the suboccipital muscles (they raise the chin) to remain in constant contraction, putting pressure on the 3 Suboccipital nerves. This nerve compression is one reason that many people suffer from headaches at the base of the skull
. Pressure on the suboccipital nerves can also mimic sinus headaches that are located in the front.
Forward head carriage that is chronic (also known as hyperkyphotic neck posture) puts compressive loads upon the upper thoracic vertebra (your mid back bones), and is also associated with the development of Upper Thoracic Hump, which can devolve into Dowager Hump when the vertebra develop compression fractures (anterior wedging).
One way to work on forward head carriage is to do exercises that involve bringing your head back and holding it there in that position for 30 seconds to one minute. A posture pulley neck excercise device
can help with getting rid of forward head carriage.
At the Neck Pain Support Blog
, we have dedicated many posts to helping you have a healthier neck. One of our posts, entitled, Strengthening Your Neck Muscles for Better Health
shows you exercises that you can do at home to make your neck muscles stronger.
The neck exercises below combine range of motion (ROM) against light/partial resistance in 4 directions (forwards, backwards, and left side bending and right side bending). This work on the four ranges of motion of the cervical spine:
- Forward Flexion
- Lateral Flexion
- Cervical Rotation
- Head and Neck Extension
Neck Exercises and the Importance of Moving Your Neck
Our neck has the ability to flex forward, backward, turn and bend to the side. Pretty amazing !. Compared to the lower back, the neck has more range of motion: Lets compare range of motion in the cervical and lumbar spine:
How Much is our Neck Supposed to Move?
||Cervical Spine (neck)
||Lumbar spine (lower back)
As you can see our cervical spine range of motion is far greater than the lumbar range of motion. The importance of moving your neck, and doing neck stretches can be emphasized enough. NeckPainReliefKit.com
presents important neck exercises
, so you can keep your cervical spine in the best shape possible. Click here for Neck Exercises
Many of Us Use the Computer Everyday
These days most households have a personal computer. If you don't have one, then you surely use one at work or at school. This computer is an integral part of many homes. We use it to for surfing the web, looking up a recipe, watching a movie, playing video games, reconciling our budget, paying our bills. So many tasks, and so many hour spent just sitting. This type of sitting neck posture looking at a computer screen can cause a host of problems. Especially if you do it constantly without taking a break. Neck Pain, Shoulder pain, back pain can all result from using the computer for a small period of time. How to combat this? Do neck exercises, improve your neck posture and back posture while sitting and take frequent breaks. One simple thing you can do is wear a posture brace
. In fact we call it a posture correcting brace because it literally helps you have great posture while on the computer.
More Posture Products You Can Use Everyday
Your workstation and optimal neck position go hand in hand
So you have to work right? So make your workstation as comfortable as you can. At the end of the day you will have minimal neck pain, and stiffness. Here are some key points for maintaining a no neck pain zone:
- Your chair: Make sure you have a ergonomic chair that has a good back support and neck support. Look for a thick padded seat, padded and adjustable arms, built in lumbar support, dual wheel casters so you can move around easily, pneumatic seat-height adjustment, ability to tilt the chair seat
- Your viewing distance: Make sure your viewing distance is 12-28 inches from the computer screen. Then you are not straining your neck muscles to see what you are typing
- Computer Screen Position: Make sure the top of the computer screen is slightly below eye level when you are sitting comfortably. Having a computer screen that is too low can put a lot of stress on your neck muscles contributing to strain and stiffness. Also tilt the computer screen slightly backwards. For most people their most comfortable neck position is when their normal line of sight is about 15 to 20 degrees below horizontal.
- Computer Screen Angle: The angle of the computer screen should be 10- 20 degrees
- Keyboard height: The height of the keyboard should be 23-28 inches from the floor surface.
- Leg Position: Your thighs should be horizontal.
Sitting with Good Posture at the Computer: Neck Pain Relief
Sitting at the computer for a long time equals neck pain and stiff neck if not done properly
Products for Improving Your Neck Posture
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