Stop right now! Freeze exactly how you are! Now observe your posture. How are you seated? What position is your head in? What position is your body in? What would a freeze frame photo of you…right now…look like? For most people that image is a slumped posture with a forward head position. This could be ruining your health.
It has been said that the average weight of the human head is about 8-10 pounds. That’s the size of your typical bowling ball. This weight, which seems insignificant at only 10 pounds, is a large player in your health. For the average weight American, an object comprising less than 7% of your body weight, can either ruin or improve your health. Let’s discuss how that’s possible.
In my office, as a chiropractor and chiropractic neurologist, I see many patients with complaints of headaches, neck pain, muscles aches, and feelings of numbness and tingling. They have popped Advil, rubbed on the pain cream, sat in the hot tub and worked the area…but the problem keeps coming back. One of the most common reasons people suffer with these kind of symptoms is due to the weight of their head on their shoulders. This weight of 8-10 pounds is actually increased 10 pounds for every inch your head moves forward!
With proper posture your ears (the holes called the external acoustic meatus) should be in line with the shoulder (right at the AC joint). The farther off “plumb line” you are, then the “heavier” your head is for the supporting muscles. This causes tightness of the suboccipital muscles (the muscles at the base of the head that are often responsible for headaches) and the upper traps (the muscles that get tight when you are under stress and tense). This muscle tightness inhibits proper blood flow, decreases oxygen and inhibits proper movement of the spine. This can leave you with a headache and chronic neck pain that is difficult to treat.
Many people are seated at computer desks all day long where, as the day progresses, they find themselves slumped and leaning forward in their chair. This creates the perfect posture for dysfunction. This slumped posture also restricts adequate rib motion, so your breathing becomes more shallow, reducing the amount of oxygen your body gets. This lack of oxygen worsens the development and persistence of trigger points in your muscles. Now you have yourself quite the vicious pain cycle!
Common causes of poor neck posture include:
- Improper posture while seated at a computer
- Reading neck with head propped up and head flexed forward
- Couch neck with head propped up on end of couch when watching TV, talking, etc
- Driving stress with shoulders hunched, head forward and uptight during your commute
All of these things can be causing abnormal posture. This abnormal posture, over time, begins to accelerate damage to your joints and causes areas of subluxation (areas of your spine that do not move properly) in your spine. Since your brain relies on information from your joints, this damage begins to negatively affect the brain and the information it is receiving. Since your brain controls every aspect of your health you can begin experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks, chronic pain, irritable bowel or sleep disturbances because of the forward head posture. All this from the weight of a bowling ball!
If you are suffering with any of the following complaints then you should schedule yourself for a posture evaluation:
- chronic neck pain
- TMJ pain and dysfunction
- eye pain
- sleep troubles
- irritable bowel
- tight muscles
- feeling like you can’t get a deep breath and you don’t have heart/lung disease
- feeling “blue”
- numbness/tingling in your arms/hands
With a posture evaluation we can determine which areas of the spine, and which muscles, are contributing to your problem. By removing these obstacles and educating you on proper posture, you can work daily to regain your health and eliminate the negative effects of your forward head posture. This issue responds best when you do something to help your posture every single day. It can take a long time to restore, but the reduction in symptoms can occur quite rapidly.
Are you ready to carry your “bowling ball” properly? Give us a call and let us help you!