Many of us walk around accepting some level of pain or discomfort in our neck as a normal part of life. It’s easy to write it off as “I slept funny” or “I sit at a desk for my work all day,” but the truth is, you shouldn’t be experiencing neck pain on a chronic basis. There are many causes of neck pain, from muscle strain and injuries to worn out joints. However, a common (and typically correctable) cause of neck pain comes from carrying the weight of our own head improperly, which greatly stresses the bones and soft tissue of the neck.
Forward Head Posture & Your Neck
The head of an average adult weights around 10-12 pounds. When you stand (or sit) upright in neutral posture, the weight of your head is evenly supported by the vertebrae in the neck and down through the rest of the spine. The muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck act as stabilizers, and when the head is being carried properly, no one muscle has to bear the burden of doing most of the work.
However, when we develop habits that cause us to slouch, such as tilting your head down and forward to look at your phone, the bones in the neck are not aligned, and the muscles in the neck must work extra hard to hold the head in that position. With repetitive instances, this will eventually develop into forward head posture, where your neck cranes forward and your ears sit in front of your shoulders. This can lead to chronic neck pain, shoulder tension, and even numbness or tingling in the arms.
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What Is the Solution to Neck Pain?
An important part of correcting this issue is changing bad habits that are contributing to the problem, but many times distortions in the alignment of the cervical vertebrae prevent things from healing entirely. The goal of upper cervical chiropractic is to address these misalignments by working from the top down. The atlas vertebra is the one that sits at the top of the spine and directly supports the weight of the head. It is also the most freely movable bone, which makes it particularly vulnerable to misaligning.
By correcting the atlas and positioning it correctly beneath the skull, your body will be able to bear the weight of your head more comfortably and evenly. Once your body is allowed to carry the weight of your head normally, all of the sore and overworked muscles can relax and heal, relieving your stubborn neck pain naturally.
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