Bad Posture causes Neck Pain

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Neck Exercises from Portobello Physiotherapy Clinic Dublin

There’s a line in a Tom Cruise movie where a kid announces his latest nugget of information – that “the human head weighs 10 pounds!”

He was right. The average human head does indeed weigh about 10 pounds, but our spine and accompanying neck and back muscles are designed to support it. However, if you have poor posture, the head becomes a weightier issue- literally.

How Poor Posture affects your upper body

When you slouch, the head goes forward. This makes your chest ‘cave in’; your shoulders round forward; your upper back hunches over and your shoulder blades rotate forward, tilting down towards the front.

This unnatural posture essentially causes your neck to stick out, like a vulture, and changes the centre of gravity of your head– the further forward your neck extends; the heavier your head gets.

At 3 inches forward, the average 10 pound head actually feels like 30 pounds. That’s over 2 stone!

It’s no wonder poor posture causes pain – it goes beyond your mother poking you in the back and telling you to stand up straight as a child; it causes real pain and permanent problems if not addressed and corrected.

Forward Head

In holding the head too far forward, and slouching the back, the resulting hunching of the upper back increases the ‘kyphotic curve’.

The increased weight of the head then forces the muscles at the back of the neck to bear the increased weight, and they have to contract more forcefully in an attempt to keep the now ‘out of balance’ head from falling further forward.

Meanwhile, the front neck flexor muscles, which are supposed to help balance the head by pulling it forward, aren’t needed much at all.

Over time, habitual ‘Forward Head’ causes the back neck extensors to weaken. They atrophy from chronic tightness and spasm, which squeezes out oxygen and nutrient–rich blood, thus starving the muscle.

 

All of these spasms and tightness invariably cause quite a lot of pain, especially at the back of the neck.

Pain and Inflammation addressed first – then Neck Exercises designed for you

Once you visit your physiotherapist at Portobello Physiotherapy, they can help you to identify and become aware of the specific postural problems you’re perpetuating by slouching.

Understanding how the spine and head are designed to be held, and the damage incorrect posture causes, makes a big difference in how you can control and manage your own neck pain.

For instance, simply taking a deep breath and consciously expanding the chest will help straighten the mid-back. You’ll immediately feel the difference of how improved posture takes the strain off everything – but maintaining it is the key.

Retrain your muscles for permanent comfort

The important muscles that should normally keep posture correct have become weak, and the ones that work against good posture have become too strong and too short, so we need to balance them all out again.

Your physiotherapist will give you a series of exercises designed to improve your specific muscles, and stick to them, as you’ll see results fairly quickly if you keep doing them, to retrain the muscles.

The goal is to once more get your head held upright on its supportive base; and the back neck muscles (neck extensors) and front neck muscles (neck flexors) work together properly to keep your head nice and balanced with the least amount of effort.

Any spasm and inflammation from neck pain are addressed first, and once that has subsided, then you will get a schedule of the neck exercises to permanently maintain the right posture and balance.

Make an appointment by calling Portobello Physiotherapy Clinic on 01 476 3330.

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