Last month we discussed a few of the ways that technology has contributed to negative alterations in our posture, particularly relating to our head and neck. The alteration I am speaking of is often known as “Forward Head Position”, and is the root cause of many of our aches, pains and progressive disorders most adults suffer with on a daily basis. We discussed its relationship to headaches, neck and back pain, sleep disorders, weight gain, sex drive as well as respiratory effort.
Now, we know many of the causes and effects, so let’s take the time to explore a few of the misconceptions and solutions. We have all been told to “pull your shoulders back, stand up tall, etc., etc.” to help correct our posture. Try it some time. Try forcing your muscles to contract against their will for even five minutes and tell me how you feel afterward. Trust me, you won’t like it. The fact is, you physically can’t and/or won’t consciously hold your muscles tight for any prolonged period because those particular muscle are not meant to do that.
Muscles that maintain posture are controlled by the unconscious part of the brain call the Cerebellum, meaning they will not listen to your conscious control, and are more than happy to remain contracted for long periods of time. So, in order to correct forward head position, or any other postural defect, one must not only elongate and deactivate the conscious phasic muscles, but at the same time activate and balance the unconscious postural muscles.
Many of the common postural techniques such as Yoga, Pilates, core stabilization and the like are very helpful in stretching and eventually stabilizing the corrected posture, but unfortunately are not very effective at initiating the necessary “unwinding process”.
To accomplish this, one needs to get the balance and postural centers located in the cerebellum fired up. One of the most effective means of activating the deep postural muscles is referred to as “reflexive weighting”. A common example works like this: Carry a moderately heavy purse on your right shoulder day after day and see what transpires with your posture. It is opposite of what most people think.
Remember Newton’s third law of physics from last month’s article. As the weight of the purse pulls down, your muscles counteract it and lift the shoulder higher, eventually causing a high right shoulder posture. The same rule applies to forward head posture.
Simply by wearing a custom weighted “crown” for 12-20 minutes per day for several months, we can unconsciously correct about 90% of our postural issues arising from the head and neck.
Add to this a relaxing technique known as “spinal molding” along with posture specific stretching and strengthening, and we have a recipe for success.
Try a basic version of spinal molding at home and see how it feels. Tightly roll up two towels, one about 3” in diameter and the other about 4-5”. Lie on your back with your knees up and the larger towel roll under your lower back, (about 1-2” higher than your belt line) and the smaller towel under the middle of your neck. Remain in this position for approximately 3-4 minutes just before going to bed. Add one minute per day until you reach 15 minutes. Specialized foam rolls are available for those who really want to correct their posture, but the towel approach will give you an idea what is involved.
I am currently in the process of building a postural specific link to one of my websites which will allow you to view the postural correction procedures in detail, so check in soon to the osteostrongmurrieta.com site as well as the xpressdot.com site for all the details.