Did you know your head is as heavy as a bowling ball?
05 June 2017
“Why is neck pain so common”, this is a question we get asked all the time. The simple anatomical answer is because holding your head up is like trying to balance a bowling ball on the end of a snooker cue. This presents challenges to the neck.
Ian, one of our Yate Chiropractors recently did a study using his patients in just one day, to look for all the various causes of strain and over exertion of the joints and muscles of the neck in those patients.
These were just the most common answers from the patients in that one day:
Poor sleep positions, poor desk posture, poor mobile phone / ipad posture, digging the garden, car crash and whiplash and overhead decorating are among some of the most common answers.
The bottom line is that as humans all have very large heads, which have evolved to protect our very large brains. The head position was designed to be held high to scan the horizon looking for food and danger. But in the modern world we now sit far too much either at a desk or driving in a car so we have created significant imbalances in the muscles that were designed to help hold the head up high. The postural weakness that develops results in what we call a forward head carriage or “turtle necks”. This puts huge strain on the joints in the neck and the surrounding muscles.
For every inch where the head moves forward on the shoulders, the weight of the head increases by at least 10 pounds. Which means that if the weight of the head is 12 pounds (on average), and if the head is titled past the shoulders by about 3 inches, then it puts about 42 pounds of pressure on the muscles and joints of the neck!
So typically we hold our heads too far forward and then exert too many strains upon ourselves that we weren’t designed to withhold.
So what, we hear you cry; Well there’s masses that can be done to diminish the forward shift and reduce the lifestyle strains that we inflict upon our selves.
First of all getting regular check ups and adjustments is important because sometimes the body will shift the head forwards away from a stiff, tender and jammed upon neck pain. Once the joints are moving better all the chiropractors at Willow will talk you through postural re-training but basically you should: Think tall, sit and stand tall. Speak to your chiropractor about strengthening your core stabilising muscles of the pelvis and shoulder girdle. Sports specific training for sports that might strain your neck such as rugby, football is really important too if you are involved in them.
Remember too, that any niggles or injuries such as a fall often will strain the neck: so get it checked out, because if you don’t, all too often it may haunt you in the future.