With Halloween just around the corner and the level of festiveness increasing rapidly by the day, it’s high time now more than ever to make sure you keep your neck safe with good posture in defense of any vampires that might be lurking.
The importance of posture cannot be overstated, as most cases of neck pain not caused by whiplash or other trauma have some postural component responsible for the problem. The most common condition that leads to neck pain is forward head and shoulder posture, which occurs when the neck slants forward and places the head in front of the shoulders, an unnatural position that should be avoided.
Every inch the neck moves forward adds another 10 pounds or so of weight onto the neck, which is more than it can handle. When this happens, the forward pull of the weight from the head puts excessive stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck, which will eventually cause pain and lead to other degenerative neck problems. If held for long enough, this position will also create forward shoulders, and the more time spent in the posture, the more likely neck and shoulder issues will develop.
Over time, forward head posture can lead to chronic pain in the spine, numbness in the arms and hands, improper breathing and even pinched nerves. Perhaps most dangerous of all, weak neck muscles this time of year can make you a prime, helpless target for hungry vampires. Here’s what you can do to defend yourself:
- Make sure your computer monitor is ergonomically set up so the top 1/3 of the screen is at eye level and 18-24 inches away from your head
- If sitting for a while, get up and walk around every 30 minutes
- Avoid craning your neck down at books, smartphones or tablets whenever possible; try to bring them to the level of your face or higher than the waist
- Sleep on your back, not your stomach, which puts your neck in a neutral position and doesn’t place an uneven load on the neck; if you regularly wake up with a sore neck, consider buying a supportive neck pillow
- Try to avoid carrying heavy bags unless necessary; if so, make sure it’s symmetrical (use two straps instead of one) and as close to the body as possible (use supportive lumbar and chest straps)
- Do a postural reset every 20 minutes or so: stand with feet straight ahead, knees straight but not locked out, slightly contract glut muscles, gently tense stomach muscles, slide shoulder blades back and down, stack head back on top of shoulders, hold for 30 seconds to 5 minutes
- Stabilize shoulders with strengthening exercises (e.g. seated row, prone Is)
At Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City, we can help you improve your neck posture with additional pointers and more specifics on the exercises mentioned here. Don’t let your neck be easy food for the vamps this Halloween season and get serious about beefing up it’s strength and improving your posture. Call us at 212-317-8303 for more information or to schedule an appointment.