The “texting neck” and the “desktop neck”
Now more than ever, we are seeing people in our clinic with this “thing” called a forward head posture. What is a forward head posture you ask?… A forward head posture is the anterior positioning of the cervical spine. This occurs while assuming poor posture while performing activities such as desk work, studying/reading and texting. This forward head posture causes a significant amount of strain on the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck and also causes shortening of the muscles of the front of the neck which can affect the jaw.
Common Side Effects
- Jaw pain (TMJ dysfunction)
- Muscle strain
- Pinched nerves
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Lower back pain
Yes, desk jobs have been around forever and so have the neck postures associated with them. However, since the introduction of smart phones, I believe this issue has become far more prevalent and more serious. Not only are we assuming a forward head posture at work, but we are also doing it at home which is a cause for concern.
Mechanics of a forward head posture:
Put simply, for every inch the head moves forward from its ideal gravitational centre it feels as if it weighs an additional 10 pounds (Figure 1). The concept is the same as holding a 10-pound weight close to the body, then extending the weight straight out in front of you. The weight does not change, but your brain’s perception of how heavy the weight feels does change, and so does the amount of effort required by the muscles, ligaments, and fascia responsible for supporting the weight—in this case, the head.
Thankfully, there is a solution to this problem. The solution is not only receiving regular massage and acupuncture treatments but your treatment plan may also involve chiropractic care and most definitely home care techniques and following proper posture guidelines. All the information you need to help you with this very painful and debilitating condition will be provided to you during your first appointment! By combining massage and acupuncture, we can release the tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones, this will allow your spine to assume its natural position.
Below you will see some real cervical spine x-rays, my x-rays. Yes, I had the pleasure of enduring this forward head posture condition. I had headaches every day, a foggy mind, irritability and a lack of focus. Thankfully for me, with mostly acupuncture, chiropractics, homecare and a bit of massage, my neck returned to its natural position and I no longer experience those terrible symptoms.
The x-ray on the right is the BEFORE picture. The red dotted line is where my next curve was. The green solid line is where my neck should have been. As you can see my neck was completely straight, and lacking a natural concave curve. The picture on the left was after 3 months of weekly acupuncture, chiropractic and massage visits; combined with daily home care exercises.
Take the advice of a professional who understands the mechanics of the neck and from someone who experienced this painful and debilitating injury first hand; acupuncture, massage and chiropractics changed my life.
Devon Jarvis R.Ac, RMT
by Devon Jarvis