Can you relate to any of these pictures?
We are all guilty of staying in poor postural positions for too long. Unfortunately many of us are having to work from home and do not have access to devices such as a standing desk or postural support chair. By staring at a monitor, located below the height of eyesight, for a long time makes the head move forward.
Most of us have a wide range of devices, mobile phones, tablets/i-pads and laptop/ computers that do a similar function. It is far to easy in the morning to prop oneself up in bed with a coffee and check the news, work emails and social media or lay on the sofa with a tablet/i pad and shop on line.
Without realising we have increased the amount of looking down we are doing. Unfortunately the more looking down we do, we increase the chance of having a painful neck condition.
Why does it matter?
Studies have suggested that we start to experience normal wear and tear changes in our necks from the age of 20. Most of us will have underlying conditions we were not aware of until triggered.
Neck pain is a common problem, most of us have already had it or will experience it. Symptoms of neck pain are not just limited to the neck itself, but can present as headaches, and/or numbness or tingling into either shoulder , anywhere along either arm or into either hand.
Neck pain may originate from any of the structures in the neck such as bones/joints, the ligaments, the nerve roots, and muscles.
The weight of the head takes up 1/7 of the body weight; therefore, maintaining a still position with the head leaning forward exerts 3.6 times more force than is required to maintain the same position with a more upright posture.
Poor Posture with the head in a forward position increases the muscle activity around your neck. Holding a posture for an extended period (more than 20 minutes) of time causes muscle fatigue and stress to the joints.
As the structures around the neck continue to be overloaded, inflammation, nerve compression and deterioration in health of tendons and ligaments occur,
Below is an image (Credit: Dr. Ken Hansraj M.D.) that displays the amount of force we put through our necks with increasing forward neck position. No wonder our posture can cause stress that leads to wear and tear.
Forward head posture also:
- Reduces neck movement
-Increases likely hood of a slipped disk in your neck.
- Causes multiple shoulder pathologies
- Reduces balance
-Negatively impacts your respiratory system
- Causes tiredness
- Causes negative affects on mood
I am sure the list can go on but the most important question is:
What can i do to help?
Here are a few tips:
1- When you are sitting, your head should be balanced directly between your shoulders. Shoulder blades squeezed back and down. Your chin should be level and eye looking straight ahead. Think Tall.
2- Your body is very good at adapting. It can easily adopt a poor posture, if that posture remains the same for a prolonger period you body will think it is normal. Therefore it is hard to correct. By looking in a mirror you will see your posture and visual feedback will help you change. Also asking family members to nag you ( not to much though) can help remind you to sit up straighter.
3 - Keep changing positions so that you are not sat with the same posture for long
4- Watch this short videos below. Amanda will go through a few exercises you can try at home
5- Physiotherapy appointments can help strengthen muscles around your upper back and neck to help maintain normal alinement for longer.
Click on the link for more excercises that will improve your posture