As I walk down the street I will involuntarily find myself looking at the postures of the people around me, their alignment and the way they walk. I have noticed that more and more people are walking around with a head forward hunched posture. This includes relatively younger people in their early 20s. Some of them look like cartoon characters as they walk down the street with their heads jutting forward. In our society, we are continually hunched over the computer, hunched over the cell phone, hunched over the steering wheel or slumping on the sofa watching TV. All this has taken its toll.
Unfortunately, the further the head deviates from the centerline of the body, the more stress is placed on the delicate structures of the neck. In fact, for each inch the head juts forward an extra 10 pounds of force is placed on the neck. I have no doubt this is why I have been seeing an increased incidence of neck pain, upper back pain and headaches. Long-term, the stresses on the neck will also result in degenerative changes to the discs and joints of that area. As a person gets older, they will be more apt to experience increased pain, reduced motion in the neck and possibly numbness and tingling down the arms if the nerves in the neck are being pinched.
While chiropractic adjustments can produce tremendous relief by mobilizing and realigning the misplaced joints and taking pressure off the pinched nerves, postural changes will take more time. To this end, I will recommend specific stretches and exercises a patient can perform at home. Basically, we have to compensate for the stresses of modern life. While day-to-day activities conspire to push the head forward, daily stretches can help bring that head and shoulders back to create a better posture which will in turn take stress off the neck and upper back area so as to relieve pain and prevent degenerative changes in the future.