Chronic neck pain is not a symptom to ignore. Sometimes neck pain starts abruptly and is gone within a few days, but any neck pain that outlasts mild home care raises red flags. If you’re in the early stages of dealing with chronic neck pain, direct your attention to your posture.
Our team of physical therapy and rehab specialists at Elation Physical Therapy in Houston and Pearland, Texas, can give you the tools you need to correct your posture. When you’re mindful of your posture, you’re more likely to experience neck pain relief or prevent neck pain from developing in the first place. Posture improvement is just one of many goals you can work toward in a personalized physical therapy program at one of our offices.
Before you get started with physical therapy and any treatment you may need for neck pain, let’s review how poor posture leads to neck pain in the first place. We’ll also explore some of the best practices for improving your posture in your day-to-day life.
How poor posture affects your neck
Your posture is the alignment of your spine when you sit or stand, whether mobile or immobile. Good posture maintains your spine’s natural curvature and distributes your weight evenly. Bad posture exaggerates your spine’s natural curvature in some way.
A hunched posture throws off your spine’s natural balance and increases stress on your neck, or cervical spine. Long-term poor posture can cause lots of wear-and-tear damage in or around your cervical spine leading to complications like:
Poor posture causes certain muscles to stretch and elongate while others become tighter to support your neck and head. These muscle imbalances exacerbate neck pain and may lead to other complications like headaches or jaw pain.
Your neck becomes stiffer over time because of poor posture and muscle imbalance. Tight, stiff muscles are vulnerable to soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains.
Spinal degeneration can happen in a few different ways. One is cervical osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition causing the joints in your cervical spine to wear down with age. You can also develop degenerative disc disease, which causes the cushioning discs between your vertebrae to become weaker and more injury-prone.
What makes our posture worse than our predecessors’
Poor posture has always been quite a common issue, but its prevalence may increase with widespread and chronic cell phone use. While there’s no singular way to position yourself while using your mobile device, you’re more likely to hunch your shoulders and slant your neck forward as you stare downward at your phone.
This has heavy consequences for your musculoskeletal health, namely chronic neck pain. Neck pain and problems are no surprise when you consider that the average weight of the human head is 10-12 pounds. For every 15 degrees forward you position your neck, the relative weight of your head increases. For example, if you position your neck 30 degrees forward, those 10-12 pounds feel more like 40 pounds to the muscles and bones supporting your neck.
Keeping your head up
If you currently have chronic neck pain or have struggled with neck pain in the past, we can offer you a few tips to follow to improve your posture. Keep your neck and the rest of your spine in better alignment by:
- Positioning your screens at eye level
- Avoiding crossing your legs while sitting for an extended period
- Taking brief breaks during your workday to move around
- Relaxing your shoulders without slouching
- Aligning your shoulders with your hips
- Keeping your weight on the balls of your feet while standing
If neck pain is a constant concern, consider calling either of our offices for professional assistance and treatment. Elation Physical Therapy specializes in physical therapy for your cervical spine, which may involve manual therapy, home exercises, ergonomics, and other strategies.
To find out more about neck pain and your posture, you can visit our experts at either office by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone today.