Poor Posture is a Pain in the Neck

Some time ago I did a little bit on tech neck. And then, I did a bunch more on…tech neck. Why? Because for years I suffered it, and since correcting it I’ve noticed more and more people who continue to suffer it. Along the way I learned that there is no “epidemic of Tech Neck,” as one shrieky writer put it.

So why do I notice it more and more? Basically because “once you see it, you can’t unsee it.” You know what I’m talking about; once you’re aware of something, it is easier and easier to see. Like when you buy a car, suddenly you notice how many of them are out there.

Anyway, it’s posture Thursday and I’m supposed to be writing about how posture correction fixed something else. Well, this morning I was reading an article at spineuniverse.com on axial neck pain and it got me to thinking.

Back when I switched from weekly yoga as a minor component of my exercise routine to regular yoga as the core of my exercise routine I suffered from a number of interrelated back pain and posture problems. As it happens, tech neck and axial neck pain were two of them.

Tech neck, properly known as forward head posture, leads to over stretching and over stressing the muscles of the shoulders and the back of the neck. This in turn can lead to a bunch of other problems including headaches, migraines, and axial neck pain.

Axial neck pain is:

Pain that remains localized to the neck and immediate surrounding structures and does not involve dysfunction of the arms, hands, fingers, or other body regions.

(Quoted from the spineuniverse.com article linked above.) Translated from medical docterese into English, axial neck pain is pain in the back of the neck.

Further along in the article, “How is axial neck pain treated?”

Gentle stretching and strengthening is encouraged in the form of self-directed exercises or formal physical therapy.

Hmm, gentle stretching and strengthening. Where have I heard that before? Did somebody post an exercise does exactly that?

And even before I got specifically into posture correction, after about a year of regular yoga (although Bikram Yoga is not best described as “gentle stretching and strengthening”) I noticed two big changes pertinent to this. One; my neck no longer hurt all the time. Two; the frequency, severity, and duration of my migraines were all reduced. Then, after moving specifically into posture correction exercises, these changes became even more pronounced.

Further, “How can axial neck pain be prevented?

  • Keeping your neck muscles strong can help prevent the development of axial neck pain.
  • Proper posture while sleeping includes sleeping on your back or side with a pillow that supports the natural contour of your neck.
  • When using a computer, ensure that your eyes align with the top third of your screen.
  • When reading, avoid extended periods of neck flexion (looking down) by keeping your arms supported in the arm rests and ensuring your glasses, if you use them, are pushed up on the bridge of your nose.

Point 1, we’re back to postural correction exercises. Point two, funnily enough, I addressed sleep as a postural problem here. Point three goes to ergonomics, and point four (in addition to ergonomics) says, “fix your posture…sit up straight.”

The good news, if you read that article, most axial neck pain is like mine was; easily diagnosed, easily treated (without surgery) so that “…symptoms usually resolve within 4-6 weeks from the onset of pain.”

So you see, it’s not just me. The doctors over at spineuniverse.com also want you to fix your back, fix your posture, and live a life free of back pain. No, seriously, their final suggestion:

Optimizing posture, ergonomics, and muscle strength can prevent the onset and help mitigate the symptoms of axial neck pain.

Another reason I keep telling you to learn to stand up right.