Like magic tricks, most neck pain seems to come out of thin air.
It’s not like you were in a car crash or fell out of a tree house. There is no apparent reason for why your neck hurts. Most people do notice some patterns of their neck pain like it hurts more when you cook, or when you sit at your work desk.
As a San Francisco Chiropractor, most of the new patients that I see have this back-and-forth neck pain that is usually caused by forward head posture. Understanding where this pain comes from is just the beginning of finding the cure. So, I listed the top 5 causes of forward head posture that causes neck pain.
1. Silicon Valley Syndrome or Text Neck
Some would call this an epidemic as more and more people are on the cell phones. The average person spends approximately 5 hours a day on their phone. If we take a look at any person on their phones it’s a sure bet that their head is bent forward to at least 50-70 degrees. This will pull on all the posterior neck muscles and overwork the anterior ones. This constant pull overstretches the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This produces an imbalance of stretched tissue. This slow pull on the back of neck essentially overstretches this part of the body.
2. Work Desk Posture
No matter how many times you correct yourself, you end up slouched with your head ducking out by the end of the day. It’s almost impossible to avoid it without someone repeatedly poking you to sit up straighter. Poor workplace posture is often the result of poor ergonomics. It’s important to make sure you have the right desk set-up.
3. Pillow Neck
If you sleep on your back with a big fluffy pillow, you are training a forward head posture. When you sleep on your stomach you are twisting your neck. As chiropractors, we do recommend best sleeping practices. The chiropractic-approved pillow is the Tri-core Cervical Pillow.
4. Reading Neck or Scholars Neck
Find your favorite reading corner. Take a seat and enjoy your latest mystery novel. Before you realize it, you’ve been looking down for hours. Looking downward for long periods of time reading will create forward head posture. Even lying down reading in bed may slowly give you forward head posture. If you like reading or watching TV lying down check out these prism glasses.
5. Couch slouch or Potato Neck
Have you ever watched a movie while lying down with your head on the armrest of the couch? Are you guilty of slouching on your couch? You are not alone. Still, if you do it over-and-over again, it slowly juts your head out and then you’ll look like that one character in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Don’t give yourself a banana back spine by sitting in your favorite position on the couch.
6. Selfie Neck or Photo Posture
Breast growth in teenage girls is an awkward phase. Some girls will adopt an awkward posture in an attempt to fight it. When a girl fails to get out of this phase rounded shoulders develop. Rounded shoulders change the center of gravity of our bodies and eventually, our head juts forward to meet this change.
When the balance between two sides of the neck musculature is disrupted it will cause forward head posture. Overuse of the anterior neck and underuse of the posterior neck will cause the jutting out of the head over the body. Your friends and family will find this easy to spot as your head will not be in line with your shoulders creating a humpback. If we let this extra stress persist it can create chronic pain and suffering. Pain may present as a sprain, strain or a kinked neck with headaches. The denneroll is a popular at-home self-correction method. However, if you are looking for something more structured consider chiropractic or acupuncture.
Do These Exercises for Forward Head Posture
Doing corrective exercise may help you reduce symptoms related to your forward head posture. The components of effective office exercises remain obscure. What we do know is muscle strengthening and endurance training remain the gold standard according to a 2011 systematic review, especially if reducing pain is your goal. Furthermore, if your goal is to overcome your disability due to pain, muscle endurance exercise is recommended over strengthening.
There are three essential exercises that will help you address forward head posture. Do not expect results unless you do each of these. Consider adding these to your daily routine or each time you have a break in your day.
- Cervical Retraction. Let’s break down the meaning. Your cervical refers to your neck while the word retraction means to pull back. In this first exercise, your goal is to bring your head back in line with your cervical spine. This is an important first step in reversing forward head posture.
- Scapular Retraction. The second exercise is to bring proper alignment of your upper back with the rest of the spine. This is done by strengthening the rhomboids. These muscles help hold your upper back up unless they become inhibited or shut off. This may happen to taller individuals, the desk jockey, or if you drive too much. If you desire good neck and head balance provide support for your rhomboids.
- Doorway Pec Stretch. Your pectoralis muscles may get very tight if you have forward head posture. Stretching is the simplest solution. Unless you release that tension, it will likely solidify that upper back kyphosis in place.
Chiropractic paired with acupuncture is an excellent combination for treating a forward head carriage. Our SF chiropractors are trained in helping restore the natural alignment of your spine. While acupuncture and soft tissue therapy aid in taking stress off the muscles around the neck. Our trained specialist will identify the root cause. Treatment would include any necessary exercises and stretches to improve posture. At our San Francisco chiropractic and acupuncture clinic, we offer a wide variety of treatment options to help decrease your neck pain.
Read about the best solutions for text neck.