11 Aug How Poor Posture Can Contribute to Neck Pain
If your grandmother ever told you to sit up straight or to stand tall, she was actually on to something. Way back in the day, our parents and grandparents knew that good posture was a good thing. Maybe they didn’t exactly know why. But still, they knew good posture was important.
It turns out that poor posture doesn’t just result in bad optics, it can actually lead to physical issues. One such issue is neck pain. That’s right, poor posture can lead to mild or moderate neck pain that can last anywhere from a few days to weeks or months. It can be uncomfortable enough to require intervention by a doctor experienced in pain management.
Normal vs. Forward Posture
Understand that when we talk about posture, we are talking about the alignment of the spine in relation to the rest of the body’s structures. What is considered normal posture is demonstrated by standing or sitting straight up, with the chest open, shoulders back, and ears directly over the tops of the shoulders.
In today’s largely sedentary and technology-driven society, not everybody is able to maintain normal posture. Some of us demonstrate poor (or forward) posture on a daily basis. Forward posture is demonstrated when the head sits slightly forward of the shoulders due to a forward slanting of the neck. Forward posture is often accompanied by forward shoulders as well.
How It Causes Pain
Forward posture is poor posture. It causes pain in a number of different ways, not the least of which is excess stress on the spine. In a normal posture scenario, the head is perfectly centered over the spine. Thus, the amount of stress the head puts on the spine is minimal.
When the head is not centered over the spine, additional stress is created. The spine must support more weight due to how the load of the head is distributed along its surface. Believe it or not, just one inch of forward tilt can double the load the spine has to carry. That kind of stress is bound to cause pain at some point.
Forward posture can also lead to neck pain in other ways:
- Overworked Muscles – Forward posture puts extra stress on neck and head muscles due to the forces of gravity. The muscles have to pull harder in the opposite direction in order to keep the head upright. If poor posture is chronic, it can cause pain by overworking those muscles.
- Hyperextension and Hyperflexion – Forward posture produces two separate reactions on either side of the spine. Toward the front, hyperextension occurs as the brain tries to keep the head in an upright position. Hyperflexion occurs on the opposite side. These opposing forces can irritate nerves in the back of the neck.
- Hunched Shoulders – Since forward posture is often accompanied by forward shoulders, we frequently encounter people exhibiting hunched shoulders in our clinic. Hunched shoulders can exacerbate neck pain or create additional pain in the shoulder muscles and joints.
Pain management strategies are quite appropriate to treating neck pain caused by poor posture. However, a better solution is to simply overcome the posture issues. We seek to help patients do that whenever possible and practical. Some situations, like scoliosis for example, may prevent a patient from practicing normal posture. In such cases, we have other treatments we can turn to.
If you are in need of any kind of pain management for chronic neck pain, feel free to reach out to our Weatherford clinic. We are here to help you take your life back from the pain.