I feel compelled to discuss a problem that I consider totally preventable, yet, that I’m seeing more often and in younger populations. The condition or symptom relates to neck and shoulder pain and headaches, but the real problem or source has to do with posture and position of the head.
The human head filled with circulating blood weighs about the same as a full-sized bowling ball. In saying this, yes, I realize I sound like the kid from Jerry Maguire; but it’s a very real thing. When head posture is where it’s designed to be – with the ears directly above the shoulders, hips, and ankles there’s very little problem. However, as is so common, when the head starts to shift forward, this creates unnecessary tension on the neck, shoulder and upper back muscles that causes pain in these areas as well as tension headaches and spinal misalignments. Think of this as if you were holding a bowling ball with arms outstretched away from your body. It gets heavy and pulls on the muscles.
This forward carriage of the head has always been common as posture is compromised by sitting in front of a computer, driving a car, or reading. I believe the reason I’m seeing this more often and in younger people has everything to do with smart-phones, tablets, gaming systems and other handheld devices. As we spend more and more time with our head forward and looking down, we set ourselves up for future problems. Fixing this problem begins with mere awareness and attention to our own (and our kids’) posture. Another helpful tip is to hold these devices up, raise them higher by using a lap pillow or sit them up on a counter or table during use to avoid forward head bending. Beyond this, chiropractic adjustments, massage, and simple head and neck exercises do the trick. They may not appreciate it now, but educate your kids about head and neck posture to avoid future problems.