Traveling, give you headaches, interrupt your daily activities, or interfere with sleeping through the night? Your pain can be brought on by a few different sources but can often be alleviated by addressing one key factor. That key factor is posture, and it can alter the length of muscles and create changes in spinal curvature, affecting the biomechanics of the cervical spine. The classic case of postural deficits creates what is referred to as “upper cross syndrome.” The diagram used to depict this syndrome is an X drawn over the head, neck, and shoulders of an individual as you examine them from the side. Each axis indicates the muscles that are weak or lengthened and those that are tight or shortened. Commonly the muscles lengthened are the deep neck flexors underneath the chin and the scapular (shoulder blade) adductors or rhomboids and middle trapezius. In contrast, those that become tight are the pectorals (chest muscles) and the suboccipital group (small muscles at the base of your skull). These changes create that classic forward head and rounded shoulder appearance we see all too often. If you stretch the muscles that are tight and strengthening, those that are weak, you can alleviate your symptoms. However, repetitive activities or sustained postures likely create these postural abnormalities in the first place. Among the top of the list of activities to avoid is sitting at a desk for a long duration. Self-treatment strategies would include a doorway stretch targeting the pectorals and performing resisted rowing exercises targeting the scapula adductor group. In addition to focusing on those major muscle groups, chin tucks or head lifts would be ideal for helping address the deep intrinsic neck flexor tightnesses. We understand that this can be confusing, especially when you don’t know the anatomy-much less the physics involved.
Let our Doctors of Physical therapy help diagnose the source of your neck pain and develop an individualized treatment plan to get you back to living a pain-free life. Call today to get started! 850-248-1600 – Dr. John Gray PT, DPT