Neck Pain and Seven Keys to Healthy Posture
Neck pain is probably the number one complaint I hear from clients followed closely by back pain complaints. All too often after spending a session on the client's neck problem I see them undoing the work before they even leave the office. They throw a heavy purse or computer bag on their shoulder or they are hunched over reading their emails. These are just some of the body mechanics that keep the cycle of pain going in an endless loop. Today I'm going to discuss seven keys to using proper body mechanics that will allow your neck to feel better with or without a massage.
Problem #1 A Flexed Head Posture
Flexion is when you bend your head forward as in reading a book or working on a cell phone or typing on a computer keyboard.The problem is that when we move our head forward it is no longer in balance with our trunk. This results in overuse and strain. Translation....a sore neck.
If you are stuck at a desk for long periods put a post it note on your computer with 30/30 on it. Use it as a reminder to stand up every thirty minutes or so and stretch for 30 seconds.
Problem #2 Head forward and Extended
Bending your head forward (flexion) while at the same time lifting head up and back (extension) puts tremendous strain and pressure on your neck muscles. It gives you the feeling of having your shoulders attached to your neck.
Problem #3 Holding the arms out to the side and in front of you as you tend to do when working on a computer
When you hold the arms in this manner your trapezius muscles contract to stabilize your scapula. This contraction creates many of those knots clients tend to complain about and contribute to that feeling of the shoulders feeling drawn up to your neck.
To prevent this it's better to bring the work closer to your body so your upper arms are hanging vertically down by your side.
Problem #4 Carrying a purse or bag on your shoulder
Even if the bag is empty the natural slope of the shoulder means you have to elevate the scapula/shoulder girdle by contracting the upper trapezius and levator scapulae to prevent the bag from sliding off. It's better to wear the bag across the body or use a back pack or family pack. The best option is to use a bag on wheels.
Problem #5 Carrying a weight in our hand
Examples include carrying a computer bag, heavy purse or suitcase. Holding any weight in the hand creates a traction that pulls the shoulder girdle down toward the ground. This action must be countered by upper back muscles.
Problem #6 Crimping a phone between the shoulder and ear
Crimping requires lateral flexion (bending sideways) of the neck and elevation of the shoulder girdle. An alternative is to hold it with opposite side hand or even better use a handset.Problem #7 Unhealthy sleep posture
The average person sleeps between six and seven hours per night. An unhealthy sleep posture can greatly add to a neck condition. If you sleep on your stomach your neck is forced into a posture of neck rotation for the entire night. If your pillow is too thick your neck is forced into excess flexion (head bent forward) all night. The best sleep posture is either on the back with a small pillow that supports the normal curve of the neck or on the side with a pillow that supports the head and neck in a neutral posture.