COULD YOUR POSTURE BE CAUSING YOUR NECK PAIN and HEADACHES?
Do you have neck pain and/or headaches that get worse after sitting long periods, or after prolonged cell phone, laptop, or tablet use? The way you are holding your head up could be overworking the muscles of your head and neck, contributing to your pain. With the increasing use of hand held electronics, slouched posture has become more prevalent than ever. In neutral, upright posture (as depicted in diagram below), the head is positioned over the shoulders and should present as a 10-12 pound load for the spine and muscles to support. As we increase neck flexion and look further and further down, the weight of the head progressively increases. Notice at the far right of the diagram the head can begin to mimic a 60 pound load on the spine and neck muscles due to the slumped posture. When you think of your head as a 12 pound weight versus a 60 pound weight, it’s no wonder your neck and head begin to hurt with improper posture!
It is important to think about creating space by brining your lower ribs up and away from your pelvis, drawing your breast bone up, and imagine you are putting your head on the ceiling. Be sure not to arch your lower back. These are all cues that can help facilitate abdominal elongation and proper upright posture that will place your shoulders over your hips and your head over your shoulders.
The next time you sit down to read a book, use your tablet or cell phone, think about the way you are holding your head, and try to bring the reading material up towards eye level so you do not allow your head to bend down and pull on your spine and neck muscles. Fixing your posture alone may not be enough to eliminate your head and neck pain, but it is certainly a great place to start. If you have persistent head or neck pain, call today to come in for an evaluation and individualized treatment plan at North Jersey Physical Therapy.