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The Bowling Ball and the Pin: How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain

Bottom Line:

The average human head weighs about 8 pounds. Each day we all walk around with a bowling ball (our head) balancing on a toothpick (our neck). We are designed this way to allow for the full range of motion we all know and love. Even under the best circumstances, this places a lot of stress on our spine. But leaning forward even just 15 degrees pushes that weight up to 30 pounds, and with a 30 degree tilt its closer to 40 pounds!

Why it Matters:

Driving a car, working on the computer, and using a tablet/phone all usually result in less than ideal posture. And when you start to lean forward, it places a tremendous amount of extra pressure on the discs in your neck and spine. This can cause increased compression and lead to pain. Even just a few inches of forward head posture can double or triple the amount of stress on the spinal joints in your neck.

– The average human head weights approximately 8-10 pounds.
– For every inch of forward head posture, an additional 10 pounds of weight is added to your spine.
– Forward head posture may result in muscle imbalances, a high risk for spinal degeneration, reduced range of motion, and pain.

Next Steps:

Take a moment today at work and notice if your shoulders are rounding, the head has moved forward, and upper back is hunched over. If you see yourself slouching into this posture, let us know. We would love to provide you with some exercises you can do at work to help strengthen the muscles supporting your spine and combat these muscle imbalances. And remember, the more time you spend in this posture, the more likely you are to suffer head and neck pain.

Science Source(s):

The Physiology of the Joints, Volume III. 6th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2007.
Myofascial trigger points, neck mobility and forward head posture in unilateral migraine. Cephalalgia 2006

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