Do you have the weight of the world on your shoulders?
The thing that stops you noticing the weight of your head is the suspension in your neck. What I mean by this is the curve in your cervical (neck) spine has a natural 43 degree arc, like a banana, that acts like suspension for your head. As you move around, whether walking or sitting down, the curve in your neck compresses like a spring to take the pressure of your head off your body.
Sometimes, due to bad posture whilst reading or working at a computer (or texting!!), you can move your head forward of your shoulders. This common posture is called forward head carriage (FHC). FHC has 2 main effects: it reduced your 43 degree (suspension) arc in your neck, and it moves the weight of the head forward from your centre of gravity.
Loosing your internal banana
As you move your head forward it places increased stress on your neck and shoulders. For every inch you move your head forward you head effectively weights 10llbs more! You can feel the effect of that when you next pick up a bowling ball (we have one in our centre in Bristol so please ask us). Hold the ball close to your chest and feel the weight of the ball, then move it away from your body and feel how much harder it is to hold. That is exactly what the muscle in your neck and shoulders are feeling when you move your head forward.
The problem is we don’t do this for a minute or two, we do it all the time. In fact, what’s your posture like now as you read this on your computer or phone?! In todays modern world we spend a large majority of our time with our heads in FHC. This is why at The Chiropractic Centre: Bristol we see so many people who feel all their stress in their neck and shoulders, often coupled with headaches as well. We have an x-ray machine in our centre and with a large majority of the neck x-rays we examine the 43 degree banana curve has straightened or gone in the opposite direction! This is due to maintaining a posture with FHC, day after day sitting at our desk or playing with Facebook on your phone, for years.
What’s so bad about loosing the curve in your neck?
Well, we read earlier that it can cause symptoms like neck pain and headaches, even sometimes tingling into the hands. In a study that studied 6000 people with chronic headaches, the only common finding they found was a loss or reversal of the normal curve in the neck! However, research also tells us that it can speed up and cause premature onset of osteoarthritis (wear and tear) of the joints and degeneration of the discs (shock absorbers) of the cervical (neck) spine. It also tells us that it can decrease your lung breathing capacity by 30% among other effects! So as you can see it is very important to maintain the proper alignment of the joints in your neck
So what can be done to stop this?
Well the most important factor is to avoid adopting postures that cause FHC. Make sure your desk is set up correctly with your screen at the right height; ensure you don’t spend prolonged periods of time with your head slumped forward on your phone; hold your book at a level so you can read it comfortably with jutting your head forward… You get the picture!
Secondly, Chiropractic and massage! Chiropractic will help you realign the joints of your neck and slow down the wear and tear process. If you’ve got to the stage of neck pain and headaches, then you most likely have a trapped nerve, therefore Chiropractic is most definitely the natural choice. Massage will help take the pressure off the muscles surrounding the spine and help to lengthen the muscles that have shortened as a result of regular FHC. Specifically prescribed stretches and exercises to do at home from your Chiropractor will help you make the necessary changes at home too.
So, if you want a fully functioning nervous system and want to slow down wear and tear in your neck, then Chiropractic is the way to go! Give us a call on 01179741501 and we will happily help you take the first steps to making change. 🙂
Watch these 2 videos for a visualisation of what happens when the cervical (neck) spine straightens and degenerates: