Two thirds of the population will have degeneration in their neck in their lifetime. The majority of those, will have an average of two degenerated intervertebral discs by the age of 54. Why is this happening and what is accelerating the degeneration of our necks? Forward head posture (FHP) is the single answer!
With texting becoming the most popular way of communicating and a lot of people working in front of a screen, FHP has become an epidemic. By the age of 35, more than 6 out of 10 will be diagnosed with FHP and rounded shoulders. Symptoms include neck muscle tension including trigger points in the upper trapezius, thomboid and scalene muscles, neck stiffness, and headaches.
In the past, FHP was associated with certain jobs: Dentists, surgeons and hairdressers. In the past decade, however due to the explosive growth of smartphones, laptops and tablets, the number of people suffering from it has increased dramatically.
When you hunch forward, the load on your neck muscles greatly increases. Since your head weighs on average of 10-12 pounds, when you look down, your neck has to deal with 40-60 pounds of extra weight, depending on how much you tilt your head forward. The usual angle of tilting your head is somewhere between 40-60 degrees, which is the equivalent of a 3 year old child sitting on your shoulders and putting pressure on your neck. Each time you send a text or just scroll on social media, your neck has these unusual forces applied to it repeatedly. Unfortunately, as every single part of your body is linked, you’ll probably not only feel pain in your neck, but also in your head, arms, chest and back. These other pains may not occur right away, but develop into problems over a period of time.
Did you know that your internal biochemistry of happiness is also blocked in this posture? What I mean by this, is the “happy chemicals” such as dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin, and endorphins are decreased when your head is tilted forward. In my opinion, smartphone companies should add a guideline to their user manual detailing how to use a phone from a bio-mechanical perspective and the risks posed by an incorrect posture.
Here’s some simple things you can do to improve your posture:
1. Take a look in the mirror, analyze your posture and try to correct it. Remember to keep your head straight above your chest, hips and feet, chest up and forward, abdomen in and flat, back curves not exaggerated.
2. When you look at your phone, keep your head in a neutral position. Bring your phone up to your face.
3. Every 50 minutes you should stand up and take a few steps, tilting your head and stretching your neck.
4. Make a Chiropractic appointment at least monthly to check your posture and get your spine realigned and use a supportive pillow when you sleep.
Information taken from The American Chiropracto, 8/2020 pgs. 52-53.