This month’s topic: the neck & cervical spine.
What has happened to us? We have become a society of walking zombies staring at our cell phones all day long. Unfortunately for some of us, our cell phones have become another limb to our body. God forbid we forget our phone at home! But let’s think about our bodies, how far forward is our neck when we text or scroll through Facebook/Instagram? Listen I get it, even PT’s are victim to falling into poor posture. However it’s important to catch it before pain starts to arise. Most jobs today require work on the computer at some point, including us as PT’s. Posture is key to preventing neck pain, I mean really key… The average human head is 10-12 pounds -this can become very heavy the further our neck goes forward. We have 7 vertebrae in our cervical spine, and we need to take care of all them. So how do we correct this and prevent this forward head posture from occurring?
There are a couple of things we need to keep in mind; first we need to strengthen the posterior aspect our bodies, which include our back, shoulders and neck. Second, we need to keep our chest loose and prevent our shoulders from becoming rounded.
V. Janda* introduced to us the upper cross syndrome. The photo below emphasizes what I’m describing, that poor posture weakens the front of our neck (our neck flexors) and muscles that retract the scapula such as the lower trapezius and rhomboids. Poor posture also shortens the length of muscles the upper trapezius, and our chest muscles, pec major and minor.
Upper trap stretch
Sit upright in a chair and tilt your head side sideways to a point of pull not pain. We are going to hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. You can perform this stretch once a day. Image 1 to the left we can try first, if we don’t feel a stretch then we can use our hand to assist in elongating that muscle.
Rows to strengthen our rhomboids
We can use a simple there-band or if we have access to weights using a cable column. Using a there-band we can simply anchor it to a hinge on a door, or anything you can wrap around in your house. Please see photo below. This exercise we can perform 10 repetitions 10 times 1x day.
So, let’s pay attention to:
How far forward is my neck when I’m staring at the computer or phone?
Are my chest muscles tight?
Do my shoulders look rounded in the mirror?
Can I still look up and see the ceiling?
Can I rotate my neck and see over my shoulder, without turning my trunk? This is very important when driving…
Our neck is very important regarding regular functioning in life, our head is connected to it! We need to take care of it, and now hopefully some of these exercises will help you guys in preventing forward head posture. If your symptoms are unresolved please come see us at any of our locations, we are here to help. So please, let’s not become part of forward head zombie nation, be proactive about your posture and not reactive.
Thanks for tuning in.
Your PT buddy, Mike.
Dr. Michael Kuzniewski graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition from Queens College in 2010. In 2012 he began to pursue the pre-requisite qualifying courses for entering DPT school and went on to graduate from NYIT with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy in May 2015. After completing his degree, Michael began work as a PT in an outpatient orthopedic practice, and most recently was promoted to Clinical Director at NY Physical Therapy & Wellness Elmhurst. He is currently pursuing the OCS certification to further his PT skills. He is a published PT with an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, “THE IMMEDIATE AND LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF KINESIOTAPE® ON BALANCE AND FUNCTIONAL PERFORMANCE.” Michael enjoys treating a variety of clinical cases but finds his niche in sports physical therapy and post- surgical rehab. His passion has always been patient driven and he constantly strives to become a better PT.
*Janda, V MD: Orthopedic physical assessment, 5th ed. St. Louis: Sauders, 2007.