Back pain can be hard enough to deal with without adding neck pain to the mix. Talk about a double whammy! Most times back and neck pain are separate conditions but it is not uncommon to experience them simultaneously.
We here at the Healthy Back Institute believe that besides trauma or injury, imbalances in our muscles are the true root cause of back and neck pain. Muscle imbalances form from everyday activities. Take for instance sitting at an office desk for 8 hours a day, every day. You sit in the same chair hunched over your computer desk day in and day out. Now if we take a closer look at the body structure we would see how posture would be affected as well as the leg and back muscles.
Over time our bodies become accustomed to the positions we put them in. Muscles that are not being used become very weak and stretched out, while muscles that are being overused become tight and strong. After a while, a game of tug-of-war ensues. The body begins to compensate, and “postural dysfunctions” can begin to form. A postural dysfunction is evident as an abnormal alignment of the hips, pelvis, neck and so forth. These dysfunctions add much stress to the spine, even wearing down discs until pain is experienced.
One common postural dysfunction that can cause neck pain is a forward head posture. While there are many causes of neck and back pain, forward head posture is a common cause. Forward head posture can not only cause neck pain but also tension-type headaches, knots in the back of the neck, poor sleep and numbness and tingling in the hands and arms. Forward head posture can be the result of carrying the head in a position where the ears are forward of the shoulders or repetitive forward head movement.
Forward head posture can be caused by sitting improperly, looking down while reading or typing on a computer, driving with your head farther than 3-4 inches from the headrest, and carrying a heavy bag, purse or backpack on one shoulder.
You can correct forward head posture by alternating some daily activities. When you are looking at your computer screen, be sure to align your eyes with the screen and put it about two feet away from your face. When wearing a back pack, be sure to balance it on both shoulders not just one. Same thing with your purse. It is better to sling it across your torso than to have it hang on one shoulder. Back support cushions are a great tool to help assist in keeping correct posture while seated.
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