Monster Neck and Back Pain
Postural Syndromes That Can Turn into Monster Neck and Back Pain
Good posture equals a good day.
—Dr. Jake Morgan
Most people are unaware of the muscle imbalances that cause their lower back pain, symptoms including a dull, achy, tight feeling; sharp severe pain; or lack of mobility—all early signs of spinal problems that can lead to compressed disc, nerve irritation, blood flow restriction, or even limit the amount of oxygen you can inhale.
Your spine is the central support structure of your body. Your spinal cord carries the neurological lifeline from your brain to all other parts of your body. Your health really depends on the flow of energy through an unrestricted nervous system. When your spine suffers, your overall health can suffer too. When you respect your spine by taking good care of it, your spine serves you well by offering its strength and flexibility for a long time to come.
How Do I Know if I Have Muscle Imbalances or Postural Imbalances?
The easiest way I can explain good posture to you is to have you imagine looking at the left or right side of your body in a full-length mirror. The first step is to visualize dime-size dots at the center of your ankle, knee, hip, waist, rib cage, shoulder, neck, ear, and head. The next step is to connect the dots.
When all the dots align in a straight line, you have the least amount of pressure on your discs and joints. When the line connecting the dots is not straight, there will be pain or discomfort.
Here is an easy way to remember this: Straight line, less pain! Hunched up, more pain! Think about those two sentences during your day. Check your body position at least once an hour. Ask yourself, “How is my posture? Do I need to straighten up?”
Please realize that it’s actually easier to stand up straight than it is to stand crooked or hunched. You use more muscles when you hunch up your back. It’s similar when we consider smiling or frowning. We use fewer muscles to smile than we do to frown. I believe that means we were meant to be happy! So stand up tall, and smile.
A Healthy Spine Equals a Balanced Spine
- Upper Cross Syndrome—refers to the postural imbalances of the upper portion of your body, including the neck, upper back, chest, and shoulders
- Lower Cross Syndrome—refers to the postural imbalances of the lower portion of your body, including the lower back, abdomen, hips, knees, ankles, and feet
In your mind, picture your spine as a sailboat mast stabilized and balanced by wire stays. Wires are in the rear of the mast, which represents the musculature in your back, and mast stabilized by wires in the front, your abdominal muscles. A muscle imbalance can create a tug-of-war on your back. Due to your lifestyle, whether repetitive or sedentary, imbalance creates some muscles to become very tight, which pulls and tugs on the spine. The opposite set of muscles get turned off due to a neurological process called “reciprocal inhibition.” For example, when you contract your bicep (the muscle on the front of your arm) your triceps, the muscle on the back of the arm is turned off—it’s how your body is designed to coordinate movement. Your muscles, when out of balance, do not properly support your back. This principle applies to your shoulders, neck, knees, hips, ankles, and wrists.
Let’s look at a couple of things some people do on a daily basis that can contribute to this muscular imbalance: long periods of sitting; working multiple hours on a computer; long-haul trucking; repeated bending at the waist, such as in construction work; talking on the telephone with your head bent to one side or the other; carrying a heavy purse or backpack around your neck or shoulder; carrying a baby on one hip or the other, causing the hips to be uneven or rotated; or exercising improperly. Oh, and one more thing, take that darn wallet out of your back pocket. One of the worst things you can do is sit on a wallet and create uneven pressure on your pelvis and lower back, creating improper alignment in the spine—then one day you bend forward and have severe lower back pain, or a gradual increase of sciatica or pinched nerve. Again, these changes occur over time. If not corrected, this can lead to permanent postural deformities and a lifetime of chronic pain.
Look in the Mirror at Your Posture
Do this self-assessment exercise, standing in front of a full-length mirror:
- Does your head tilt to the left or right?
- Is one shoulder higher than the other?
- Is one pant leg longer than the other?
- Now turn to the side, and have someone tell you if your neck is in front of your shoulders. Is it? If so, this is called “anterior head posture.”
- Now look at the bottoms of your shoes or boots that you wear daily. Do they have areas that are more worn out than other areas of your shoe?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, these are direct examples of postural syndromes. To fix postural problems, your goal is to balance these predictable muscle and spinal postural positions.
Postural pain can be a small problem that is more of a nuisance…or it can be very debilitating. You might have more than one symptom, and I know I sound like a broken record, but you must always determine why or what is the reason for pain—not just, “I have pain here, so let’s fix this one spot.” I have found in my practice that 90 percent of people have structural problems that develop over years before pain arises. So I want you to look in the mirror: Do you have a slouched or slumped upper back and rounded shoulders? Look at your lower back—does your abdomen protrude? Is one leg longer than the other? Does one pant leg fit longer than the other? Have someone help you check.
As you now know, these distortion patterns, along with various muscular and joint imbalances that created your pain, interrupt your life. It can take months, usually years, to develop, and the true cause is the habitual nature of pain. Your body is a programmable system—when you perform any task repeatedly over time, it becomes a habit. For example, fitness is the body forming habits so you can increase endurance or speed for running.
It takes approximately 90 to 120 days to change human physiology, so the goal is to create new muscle and joint memory. Once you have adopted the various lower back or pelvis distortion patterns, the muscular and joint imbalances are set—after continued practice, they suddenly become a habit. Your body believes these to be “normal.” Once your body accepts these as normal, it then stops trying to correct or remove them. These patterns are now ingrained in your spine and pelvis, and over time pain will develop. This is the main reason most back pain treatments fail—they don’t change the habits.
If you don’t identify the underlying cause, or have symptom-based treatment, pain eases temporarily but then returns again…and the cycle continues. To change and break habits, keep targeting the area initially for 90 days. If you only work on muscles, and not the joints or pelvic imbalances, chasing symptoms or temporary pain relief only, then habits will remain. To get long-term back pain relief, you must balance your muscles, joints, and pelvic distortions, and break any unhealthy habits that have formed. You must form new habits and train your body to become and remain pain-free. This can be achieved only if you learn to help treat yourself.
For 10 days only, I’m running a very special offer where you can find out if you are a candidate for chiropractic care.
What does this offer include?
Everything I normally do in my new patient evaluation. You’ll get…
- An in-depth consultation about your health and well-being where I will listen…really listen…to the details of your case.
- A complete neuromuscular examination, full set of specialized x-rays, review of your MRI, and a thorough analysis of your findings so we can design your plan to being pain free.
The normal price for this type of evaluation, including x-rays, is $225 so you’re saving a considerable amount by taking me up on this offer.
Call today and we can get you scheduled for your consultation, exam and x-rays as soon as there’s an opening.
When you call, tell the receptionist you’d like to come in for the Back Pain Evaluation so she get you on the schedule and make sure you receive proper credit for this special offer.