How to realign your neck

How to realign your neck

We’re so used to our necks being too far forward that we all consider this the new normal–leaning over a desk, working on a computer, eating, or sleeping on our backs with a pillow. We’ve become creatures of industrial, occupational and technological misalignment. We don’t realize we could be just one click, chomp or snore away from more enjoyable and injury-free running.

WHAT IT IS

Optimum neck alignment occurs when the cervical spine is 3 to 5 degrees extended. A good self-test to see how you “stack up” is to line up against a wall with your heels, pelvis, shoulders and the back of your head against the surface. Does this position feel comfortable? Take several steps away from the wall. In a few moments you may shift back into your old alignment. Now check your profile in the mirror to see if you’re in the “head too far forward” club.

What’s wrong with this if we all seem to be in this together? Anatomically the neck is at the end of the line for postural adjustment. When the neck moves too far forward, your pelvis rotates forward as well. This counterbalancing to keep us upright prevents us from landing with our foot strike directly under our center of gravity. This postural dysfunction adversely affects our form and creates a greater possibility of injury. Use this reset below even if you don’t currently experience a “pain in the neck.”

RESET IT

This reset may be performed seated or standing. Glide your head backward like it’s on a rail. Place your hands at your chin. Tilt your head back using the muscles in the back of your neck. Very gently assist with your hands at the end of your natural range of motion. Don’t hold. Return to start position. If you feel compression or discomfort at the base of the neck, modify your range of motion. Repeat eight to 10 times. Exhale as you tilt your head backward. Inhale as you return your head to start position. Incorporate this simple and effective reset anytime you find yourself with your neck too far forward.

This weekend’s challenge is called the Neck Vertebrae Aligner, an exercise to maintain and even recover the curve of your cervical (neck) vertebrae.

The cervical curve is crucial to preventing and reversing Forward Head Posture (FHP) and kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump). Yet it’s easy to overlook it, since there’s so much focus on preventing abnormal spinal curvature and flattening the back.

Besides giving you a youthful appearance, maintaining the cervical curve also helps to achieve correct breathing plus it prevents neck injuries and potential neck aches caused by misaligned cervical vertebrae.

The Neck Vertebrae Aligner does all of the above, in one easy move.

When I tried this exercise, it felt a bit awkward at first, but then I could actually feel it aligning the vertebrae in my neck. It really feels good, and I make sure to do it almost every day, especially after long hours of working on my computer.

Now let’s take a look at why this simple exercise is so effective.

Why:

Your neck is flexible, which makes for maximum shock absorption, support, and range of motion. When muscles become tense and tight, however, it makes the neck rigid and more prone to injury.

A slight cervical lordosis – or curvature – is desirable in the neck because it contributes to proper weight distribution of the head, vertebral alignment, and correct posture.

How to realign your neck

Cervical lordosis can be compromised by kyphosis and FHP, both of which put pressure in the wrong areas of the vertebrae and cause muscles to contract and strain. When your head is poked forward, it requires much more muscle strength to hold the head up.

This starts a vicious cycle – FHP and kyphosis both undermine the healthy curvature of the neck vertebrae, and the less curve you have, the worse your FHP becomes. It’s been scientifically recognized for some time that the muscles stay in a tightened state, causing pain and decreased circulation. 1 If blood cannot flow freely through the neck muscles, then the bones and muscles in the neck will be starved of key bone-building nutrients.

There’s another problem associated with FHP and loss of cervical curve: compromised breathing. Being able to draw a deep, alkalizing breath requires proper alignment and “opening” of the ribcage and chest cavity, and that’s impossible if you are hunched over or your head is poked forward.

The Neck Vertebrae Aligner restores the healthy curve in your neck, preserving a youthful stance and preventing detrimental wear and tear on cervical vertebrae.

How:

You will need a roll of paper towels to do this exercise. (Stay with me – it makes sense once you see how it works!)

  1. Begin by facing a wall and standing close to it (about 6 to 8 inches away).
  2. Tilt you head back and place and hold with both hands the roll of paper towels on the bridge of your nose so it covers your eyes.
  3. Lean forward against the wall so the paper towel, your chest and chin are touching the wall.
  4. Drop your arms to the sides and make sure you chin is still touching the wall.
  5. Now slowly nod your head just enough for your chin to come away from the wall and back.
  6. Hold for 10 seconds (or as long as you comfortably can).
  7. Repeat 3 or 4 times. You can practice this exercise daily, multiple times.

Achieving Excellent Bone Health Involves More Than Preventing Fractures And Building Bone

Achieving correct posture is also very important in preventing and reversing osteoporosis. It’s just as essential as proper nutrition, because good posture means your spine is aligned – and if your spine is aligned, then your body will function properly and you’ll be able to build bone more efficiently.

This is crucial, because putting pressure on bone stimulates bone growth at the site of pressure (as per Wolff’s Law). Misaligned bones (and especially vertebrae) put pressure in all the wrong places, giving rise to bone spurs and other painful conditions.

The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System covers all aspects of bone-building beyond just bone density – hence the prefix “epi,” meaning “beyond.” When you practice the moves in Densercise™ three times a week for only 15 minutes, you’re correcting posture, increasing bone density, toning your muscles, and getting all the additional benefits of regular exercise.

And when you get Densercise™, you’ll also receive the Densercise™ Eating Guide, packed with healthy eating tips to give your bones the vitamins and nutrients they need to support maximum growth. You’ll discover the best foods to eat before and after you Densercise to get the results you want.

“Forward head posture” goes by a lot of names, most of them unflattering.

“Nerd neck.” “Wearsie neck.” “Text neck.” “Scholar’s neck.” (Okay, that last one wasn’t so bad.)

Still, no one wants the side effects that come with this common postural deformity, which afflicts between 66% and 90% of the population.

It’s defined as a posture where your neck slants anteriorly (forward), positioning the head an inch or more in front of the atlas (first neck vertebra).

This doesn’t look good. It also shifts your center of gravity forward, disproportionate to the weight of the head. By a malign trick of geometry, every inch your eight-pound head protrudes in front increases the load on your neck and shoulders by ten pounds!

How to realign your neck

How to Tell if you Have Forward Head Posture

Stand with your back to the wall, shoulder blades and heels touching the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Try to achieve a neutral back position. It can help to squeeze your shoulder blades together and then release them a few times.

Is the back of your skull also touching the wall? If not, you have some degree of “nerd neck.”

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Many bad habits of contemporary living can cause “nerd neck.”

The key culprit is long periods of time looking down.

Forward head posture can be caused by:

  • Too much time looking at your cell phone.
  • Too much time at the computer.
  • Too much time driving.
  • Carrying a heavy backpack.
  • Sleeping with your head too elevated—for example, too many pillows, or with your head propped against the armrest of a sofa.

Other causal factors include:

  • Past neck injuries.
  • Weak neck muscles.
  • Improper breathing.
  • Practicing sports that favor one side of your body (baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, etc.)
  • Professions involving repetitive movements (computer programmer, massage therapist, hairstylist, painter, writer, etc.)

Side Effects of Forward Head Posture

“Nerd neck” results in tight upper back muscles and weak front-of-neck muscles. This kind of imbalance leads to all sorts of unpleasant neural, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular side effects.

The muscles, joints, and nerves in the neck and back fall under undue pressure, resulting in upper back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. The rounding of the shoulders also places an extra burden on the lower back, increasing the risk of herniated discs.

These effects culminate in “tension neck syndrome,” which causes pain often indistinguishable from a tension headache. Think you suffer from “tension headaches?” The culprit may actually be your “nerd neck” posture.

Your changed center of balance also makes you more susceptible to falls and the ensuing injuries.

Other short-term side effects of forward head posture include:

  • Kyphosis (Excessive rounded shoulders)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Restricted breathing
  • Temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Numbness and tingling of the arms and hands

Long-term side effects of “nerd neck” include:

  • Reduced shoulder mobility
  • Osteoporosis (and related fractures)
  • Cervical spine arthritis
  • Bulging Discs

How to Fix Nerd Neck

Over time, forward head posture can be corrected through four lifestyle changes:

1. Use One Firm Pillow

Choose a sleeping pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. If your pillow is either too high or too low, it could cause your head to lie in an overtaxed position … all night long, every night. The resulting muscle imbalance can be hard to correct.

Instead, choose one firm pillow that supports your head with your neck at neutral position.

2. Make your Work Station Ergonomic

While many of us sit at desks looking at computers all day, most of us can make some simple, posture-friendly adjustments.

Choose a chair-desk combo that promotes good posture by allowing you to sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground, elbows at a 90-degree angle when you rest your arms on the desk.

Position your computer screen 18-24 inches from your head (about an arm’s length), with the top of the monitor at eye level so you don’t constantly look down to see your screen content.

3. Adjust your Backpack

Choose a backpack proportional to your body. If you aren’t a huge person, don’t choose a huge backpack.

Take some time to remove unneeded items so you aren’t carrying unnecessary weight. Try to position any necessary heavy items near the center of your back to reduce excess strain on the shoulders. Also, avoid carrying your backpack with one strap to avoid excessive stress on one side of your neck.

4. Start a “Nerd Neck” Exercise Routine

The right exercises can improve your posture and correct forward head posture overtime. Perform several of the following exercises 2-3 times a day, 3-4 sets of each exercise:

  • Tilt your head forward gently, touch your chin to your chest, hold for five seconds, then release.
  • Rotate your head to the left until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for five seconds, then repeat to the right.
  • Push your head forward until you feel the stretch through your throat. Hold for five seconds, then release.
  • Gently tilt your head to the side, attempting to touch your ear to your shoulder, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for five seconds, release, then repeat on the other side.
  • Pinch and massage the muscles between your ears and your collarbone for about a minute.
  • Seated or standing with feet shoulder-width apart, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds, then release. Try for 10-15 reps.

Can Chiropractors Help Treat Nerd Neck?

When it comes to spine alignment or posture problems chiropractic services can be incredibly effective. By continuously adjusting specific joints in the spine and neck chiropractors can help to restore posture and normal motion.

Combining our tips for fixing nerd neck with routine chiropractic sessions will greatly benefit your journey to better health and well-being.

Your neck bones (vertebrae), if positioned properly should form a specific degree of forward curve. The curve should not be too much or too little … just the right amount. The correct neck curvature is very important to the health of the neck bones, the health of the neck’s intervertebral disks (protective cartilage between the bones), as well as keeping your neck mobile and pain free. Your head weighs about as much as a bowling ball and if you neck curvature is incorrect the weight of your head will make the curvature worse over time.

What causes a change in the neck curvature?

Simply, both major and minor traumas to the body causes changes in the neck curvature. Physical stresses like car accidents, slips, falls, and sports injuries can change the alignment of the neck bones. Furthermore, benign traumas, such as sitting with poor posture and poor sleeping habits—like sleeping on your stomach or too many pillows under your neck, can negatively affect the neck bones’ alignment. In addition, degenerative disc disease, congenital issues, spine surgery, tumors, and infections can all cause misalignment of the spinal bones of the neck.

So, what should you do to promote proper neck curvature?

Have a chiropractor check you for neck bone misalignment.

Keep your head directly above your shoulders.

Limit your electronic usage, such as taking time away from your phone, laptop, or notebook.

Perform Bruegger’s Maneuver (also known as Bruegger’s Exercise). That is, sit at the edge of a chair with your legs hip-width apart. Turn your feet out at a 45-degree angle. Your arms should hang loosely at your side with your palms facing forward. Sit up straight while making sure to avoid putting a large curve in your low back. Bring your head back so your ears are directly over your shoulders. Take 5-10 deep breaths in and out. Repeat as needed. This can be repeated throughout the day every hour or so. Another version of this exercise uses a resistance band.

Perform neck stretches. Move the neck in all ranges of motion (one direction or one motion at a time) forward, backward, side-to-side, and rotate to each side) making sure to feel the stretch and holding each position for 15 seconds.

Use a cervical roll. The neck is supposed to have a natural C-shaped curve, but the curve can become flattened or even reversed. A simple way to help get the curve back is the use of a cervical roll. You can purchase one or make your own by taking a hand towel and rolling it up length-wise. Once the towel is rolled you can put a rubber band or duct tape around it to keep it rolled tight. Use the cervical roll by lying on your back on a flat surface, then placing the roll at the base of your neck, so your neck naturally curves around it. The roll doesn’t go under your headyour head should not be propped up. If your head is propped up, you need to move the roll lower down your spine. The roll should be used daily for 20-30 minutes.

Get adjusted. Chiropractic adjustments will help restore normal joint function and can reduce/eliminate muscular tension while helping restore proper neck bone alignment.

If you have any questions about this blog post, chiropractic, back pain, neck pain, or headaches, I can be reached at my Ann Arbor chiropractic office at [email protected]

Having an out of alignment neck is a common issue, especially if your job demands you to sit at a computer all day. A misaligned neck can cause pain and discomfort. Fortunately, it is possible to realign your neck using neck stretches and lifestyle changes.

Using Neck Stretches

1. Warm-up your neck. Warm-up your neck muscles before stretching, which will help prevent muscle pain and tightness. To start, gently stretch your neck by rolling your head to each side. Begin with leaning your head toward the right. Now gently lower your head and around until your head leans to the left. Repeat the exercise, gently rolling your head from one side to another.

2. Try a front neck stretch. Move your head to the front and back. This is an effective way to realign your neck. Sit in a straight chair looking forward and bend your chin down to your chest and hold for 15 seconds. Now lift your head back to the starting position. Repeat for about ten times.

3. Do a side neck stretch. Known as cervical lateral flexion stretch. Turn your head from one side to another to help with your neck alignment. Begin with positioning your head straight with your chin. Then turn your head to the right side and hold for 15 seconds. Relax and return to your starting position.

4. Use your arm to stretch your neck. Stand with your back straight. Turn your head to the right and your face toward the ceiling. Look forward and bend your head to the right. Now, using your right arm, gently press your head toward your right shoulder. Hold for 20-25 seconds.

5. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Relax your shoulders and keep your arms at your side. Now squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for around 5 seconds. Release and repeat the stretch for ten repetitions.

If you have any questions regarding these exercises, consult the medical team at Family Diagnostic Clinic. To book an appointment, call us at 281-351-6800 .

How to realign your neck

Many of us suffer from spine health issues and therefore know how important it is to talk about them. Usually, spine pain and damage happen due to unbalanced posture, slouching, and even standing. It undoubtedly is a big concern, and therefore we have come up with tricks and tips on how to align the spine naturally. Keep reading to learn simple hacks and keep your spine aligned and strong.

Sleeping

As per the WHO health guideline, a healthy adult must sleep for at least 8 hours a day. Those 8 hours too can do blunder to your spine health. So ensure that you take care of your spine health even while in bed. The best way to do that is:

  • Note that if you sleep on your sides, take a flat pillow and place it between your legs. This trick helps you keep your spine aligned and straight. Try to sleep on your back or side than your stomach.
  • Use a flat pillow and put it under your head. This ensures that your upper back, especially your neck has enough support.
  • If you have spine health issues and usually face pain, go for a medicated cushion or pillow.
  • People nowadays invest money in buying foam spring mattresses without considering how back it affects their spine health. Therefore, select a firm one or look for memory foam or latex while looking for a mattress.

Driving

Did you know that even driving and daily commutes can too deteriorate your spine health? Scientific researches show that a driving commutation for an hour can trigger multiple lower spine problems. However, the best way to avoid that is by:

  • Move the seat up until you are able to press the foot pedals with your knees still bend.
  • Sit in the middle of the seat and lean back slightly to provide support to your back.
  • Avoid reclining your seat far. Stick to the 5-degree recline mark to avoid worsening spine health.
  • Align your hips with the knees by raising the seat. If it doesn’t work, consider putting a cushion under your posterior.
  • Level the top of the headrest with the top of your head for overall support to your spine.

Walking

Doctors usually recommend patients go for a walk when they report spine health issues. The primary reason behind the same is when we walk our body, particularly our spine straightens up completely. However, correct posture while walking is mandatory. Otherwise, you will deteriorate your spine health, therefore:

  1. While walking, envisage that the top of your head and your hips are attached to a string and walk accordingly.
  2. Watch your steps. If you have spine health issues, avoid taking long strides as it can be painful.
  3. The primary reason why walking leads to spine pain is that you use your phone. So, put your phone away, look straight ahead, and posture your chin parallel to the ground.

Sitting

Wasn’t sitting supposed to be relaxing? It undoubtedly is, but it can still put pressure on your disc and hamper your spine health. Therefore, while sitting, keep in mind these points:

  1. Being a couch potato or seated in an ergonomic office chair can hurt your spine. Therefore stand up and walk once every 45 minutes. Stretch your arms, legs, and bend backward to stretch the spine.
  2. Avoid slouching or leaning forward. Keep your spine straight and aligned against your chair.

Lifting

Lifting heavy weights is the most common cause of spine pain, and it is essential to take necessary precautions to have stabilized spine health.

  1. While lifting weights, avoid using your back; instead, use legs muscles.
  2. Never bend on your waist; try bending at your knees.
  3. If you carry a heavy shoulder bag, alternatively shift sides; otherwise, it can affect your spine health.
  4. If you lift a heavy object, keep it as close to your chest as possible.
  5. While carrying heavy backpacks, roll and shrug the shoulders regularly and take rests.

All of these methods are derived after hours of discussion and therefore work ideally for everyone. However, these are just precautionary measures; they can’t cure spine injuries or spine health extremities. If you have any chronic spine health issues, our team of proficient chiropractors can help you with spinal problems. Realign spine offers one of the best spinal care programs, including surgical procedures, chiropractic care, and interventional treatment. For more information, visit us at Realign spine.

How to realign your neck

This is a gentle but very effective technique for neck pain and restricted neck mobility from a misaligned atlas vertebra. It’s also helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much to ‘do’ or you just can’t get on and complete things.

The technique is taught in more detail in the Spine Alignment & Body Intelligence workshop, but here is a simple version you can try yourself.

The atlas, or 1st cervical vertebrae, has a natural movement which can become restricted or unbalanced. When it is functioning optimally, it moves in an horizontal infinity pattern, gently reverberating this rhythmic movement throughout your spine. In Shin Tai philosophy, there is a correspondence be tween stress in the atlas and your energy being projected into the future/having a fear of the future which can also manifest as overwhelm or anxiety.

Lay on your back and lightly touch each side of your atlas, directly under the mastoid process. Enjoy the side to side sway of its subtle motion, noticing restriction or asymmetrical movement. Encourage more symmetry and freedom of movement with your intention – don’t apply more pressure! Pay attention to sensations in your body. Feel for a softening of any rigid sensation in the atlas, and/or for the shape and movement to become more clear. Do this for 5-10 minutes.

After treating yourself, notice changes in your feelings, mental state, and physical condition throughout the next day or two.

I often use this technique when I’m lying in bed unable to sleep, thinking of everything I have to do! Give it a try and let me know how you get on!

How to realign your neck

Before trying to correct your spinal alignment on your own, check with your doctor to make sure you don't have a more serious, underlying problem. Some spinal imbalances won't need a chiropractor. If you don't have any serious medical issues, stretching, strengthening and relaxation techniques can help you improve your posture and your spinal alignment. The website Spine-Health emphasizes exercise as the most important factor contributing to spinal health. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine in order to increase strength and offset muscle imbalances that could contribute to incorrect spine alignment.

Video of the Day

Step 1

Identify things in your daily lifestyle that you may do to hinder proper spinal alignment. For instance, if you spend long hours slouching in an office chair, you regularly wear shoes without support or you sleep on your stomach, you may need to make changes in those areas of your life to improve spine alignment.

Step 2

Rest your back while at work. According to Spine-Health, you place more pressure on your back while sitting than while standing. Make sure you sit up straight, with your legs uncrossed and at 90-degree angles in order to decrease unnecessary pressure. If you find yourself crossing your legs regularly, this could throw your spine out of alignment.

Step 3

Use a stability ball as an office chair for short periods of time during the day. According to the American Council on Exercise, sitting or performing exercises on a stability ball will help strengthen your core muscles of the abs, hips and back, which contribute to improved posture. You don't have to ditch your comfy office chair, just use a stability ball for 20 minutes at the beginning of the day, then again for 20 minutes after lunch.

Step 4

Walk around and stretch regularly. Movement enhances the blood flow to the spine and encourages mobility and range of motion, making proper spinal alignment easier to maintain.

Step 5

Exercise daily, including both low-impact cardio and weight training to your workout. Improving strength, particularly in your back and abs, can help you improve your posture and align the spine.

Step 6

Add yoga to your exercise routine. Yoga takes you through a series of exercises that stretch and strengthen both the front and back of your body, helping even out muscle imbalances. Spine-Health notes that yoga can improve posture and spine alignment.

Step 7

Sleep in a way that supports your spine. Your spine should have the opportunity to rest, relax and readjust itself as you sleep; if you wake up stiff, you may want to address potential problems. If you sleep on your side, consider placing a thin pillow behind your knees. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees and a towel beneath your neck. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if you can.