In today’s world, the majority of us have jobs that require hours of working at a computer, sitting at a desk or attending meetings (more sitting!). Most workstations and conference tables are not ergonomically correct which means leaning, hunching, looking down or up–basically, poor posture. The results of this are a stiff neck, aching shoulders and back pain. And it’s not just those that work at a desk that experience discomfort. Everyone that looks down at a smartphone for any length of time (texting) and students that spend hours studying are also reducing the natural curve of the neck. Sleep on your stomach? Yep, that affects it, too.
Why is this curve so important and why does the body “need” it?
The neck curve contains the first seven vertebrae of your spine. It starts right below the skull and ends around the upper back/shoulder area. A neck curve that is healthy looks like a backward C. This part of the spine holds up and supports your head. Surrounding it are muscles, ligaments and tendons that keep your neck and head mobile and flexible. When the curve is strong, the neck’s soft tissues remain pliable and the brain is able to transmit messages from the spine to the nerves then to the body, maintaining overall spine health.
The neck part of the spine can lose its curve from traumas like a car accident, a fall and sports injuries. Minor activities like sitting and sleeping in a poor posture can also affect the curve of the neck spine.
One simple and important thing you can do to prevent or slow loss of the neck curve is to keep your head directly above your shoulders. When you lean forward, the weight of the head on the spine increases leading to pinched nerves, muscle strain and even arthritis. This is why an ergonomic workstation and proper posture are so critical to the C curve in the neck.
Don’t forget the role your chiropractor plays. While the sound may make you cringe, getting regular neck adjustments is also helpful to preventing the neck curve from straightening. Your chiropractor has a number of techniques he or she can use on your neck to reduce stiffness, increase range of motion and preserve your C curve.
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