OpenRoad Driver Volume 13 Issue 1 - Page 87

Volume 13 Issue 1 » 87 The area where the neck and cranium meet is a very busy place, and there should be a space of about 6.5 plus or minus 2.5 mm between the base of the skull and the second vertebra, or spinous process of C2. When this space is reduced to 4 mm or less, the nerves and blood vessels in that space can be mechanically compressed. I’ll stop there. I’m hoping it is clear that forward-head posture has a significant impact on the whole body, and that doing what is needed to bring the head back into its proper position can greatly improve pain syndromes and body function. How far forward is your head? You can figure this out with a ruler and a plumb line - a piece of string with a key tied to the end - and a friend. Stand up, and put the ruler lightly in the sternoclavicular notch, the soft gushy V right above your breast bone at the bottom of your neck. Hold the string on the front of your cheek right on the bone, letting the plumb line hang, and have your friend read off the ruler how far forward your head is. When the back of the skull and the top vertebrae (OA joint) get too close together there is potential for compressing the vertebral artery and vein as they exit the transverse foramen of the top vertebrae to make their way into the cranium. Impaired blood flow into and drainage from the brain is never a good thing. This lack of space has been shown to be associated with higher incidence of vertigo, possibly due to a compromised vertebral artery. If you notice you always get dizzy when you look up at the ceiling or at airplanes in the sky, this is a warning sign that those blood vessels may be quite compromised. Do something to restore a better head position and that might improve the situation dramatically. Often awareness of body position can help, particularly when seated. Making sure your work environment is ergonomically correct is critically important. The chair needs to be raised so that you can sit tall on the sit bones, shoulders resting on the ribs, elbows at 90 degrees. The monitor should be in front of your eyes, so the head does not need to be tilted down to view it. Your feet should be resting on something that allows your ankles, knees and hips to be at 90 degrees. Forward-head posture can create significant problems within the head, too. Try sticking your head further forward, keeping your face looking straight ahead. Can you feel a stretch in the neck under your jaw? As the head goes forward, the jaw is often pulled back, which may alter your bite, leading to TMJ problems. A good orthopaedic assessment can be helpful to reduce forward-head posture. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting used to being in a different position: bringing the pelvis back over the legs, which would straighten the ribcage providing an upright platform for your head. The hyoid bone in the front of the throat will be pulled up in forward-head posture, which may contribute to snoring and possibly even sleep apnea. VRENI GURD Most people would need a personalized stretching and strengthening program to bring the body back into alignment. For example, tight muscles at the pelvis will definitely impact head position, and which muscles need to be stretched and strengthened is a very individual thing. In others, the upper back is stuck in too much curve, and the spinal segments would need to be mobilized. The spinal and the back extensors would need to be strengthened. A simple stretch is to lie on the floor or in the middle of the bed on your back - use a small pillow if you need one - and reach your arms straight out to the side, slowly raising them up towards your head like a snow angel. When you start to feel a stretch, wait until the stretch dissipates. Do this daily. The goal is to have your upper arms resting on the floor comfortably next to your ears without feeling any stretch at all. People with too much upper back roundness would probably also need stretching of the bac k of the neck and strengthening of the deep front neck muscles, the longus colli and longus capitus. These neck muscles are tricky to strengthen without instruction, so seek out a CHEK Practitioner or physical therapist to help you. w a s t h e t o p g r a d u a t i n g s t u d e n t i n P H E f r o m t h e Un i v e r s i t y o f To r o n t o in 1992, and is continually furthering her education in exercise, nutrition and h e a l t h . A s a C . H . E . K . 3 p r a c t i t i o n e r a n d h o l i s t i c l i f e s t y l e c o n s u l t a n t , Vr e n i ’ s c u r r e n t Va n c o u v e r p r a c t i c e i n v o l v e s h e l p i n g c l i e n t s f e e l b e t t e r t h r o u g h p o s t u r e c o r r e c t i o n , corrective exercise, metabolic typing, and nutrition and lifestyle counseling. 604-256-3463 This article provides general information and is not to be construed as medical advice or an endorsement. Educational information provided is not a substitute for regular professional health care and nutrition advice. Always consult your qualified health care professional and nutritionist for questions regarding your well being. OpenRoad Driver does not warrant the accuracy of statements. We rely on the author to present factual material and cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy, utility or safety of the material published.