Disc Herniations and Chiropractic

What is a disc/inter-verterbal disc?

Our spines are made up of bones called vertebrae. In between each of these bones, we have discs that cushion our vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. The disc has a tough outer layer, called the annulus, and a soft inner center called the nucleus.

What is a disc herniation?

A disc herniation is when the soft inner nucleus pushes out of the annulus into the spinal canal. The spinal canal only has limited space, so when the nucleus of the disc starts protruding into the spinal canal it can put pressure on the nerves within the canal. As a result, this can cause pain and other symptoms. Moreover, this can happen anywhere in the spine but usually occurs in the lower back or the neck.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the lower back?

Symptoms caused by a disc herniation in the lower back include lower back pain, numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts in the buttock and radiates down the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually, only one side is affected. In addition, pain is usually exacerbated by standing, walking, sitting, and straightening the painful leg.

What are the symptoms of disc herniations in the neck?

In the neck, symptoms include neck pain, pain in between the shoulder blades; numbness, pain, tingling, or burning. The burning starts down the arms and sometimes into the hands and fingertips. Moreover, the pain can be exacerbated by certain neck positions and movement. As well as coughing, sneezing, or straining. In addition, disc herniations can cause weakness in the affected limb.

An injury usually causes disc herniations to that area of the spine. Still, in people with degenerating discs, it can sometimes just take a small exertion or twist of the spine to cause a herniation. Risk factors for disc herniation include smoking, being overweight, incorrect lifting technique, repetitive strenuous activities, or a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, 30-50 years old is the most common age to develop a disc herniation, but it can happen outside of this age range. In addition, men are twice as likely as women to experience a disc herniation2.

How can chiropractic help with disc herniations?

There are many ways that chiropractic care can help with disc herniations.

Prevention:

Firstly, by preventing them from happening in the first place. Chiropractic is all about optimizing nervous system function. This helps to make sure all of the muscles around our spine are activated and working at their best. As a result, when muscles around our spine aren’t working properly, this leaves our spine vulnerable and more susceptible to a disc herniation if we sustain an injury.

Proper Movement and Support:

Secondly, chiropractic can prevent a disc herniation by making sure the joint is moving properly. Chiropractic restores proper joint biomechanics, and when joints are moving properly this decreases the likelihood of degeneration. Importantly, as degeneration is a major risk factor for disc herniation, this is an important part of preventing disc herniations.

Improves healing:

Thirdly, it is important to try and prevent disc herniations from happening in the first place. However, you could still sustain an injury that causes a disc herniation. Chiropractic is beneficial in the healing process for this. As chiropractic impacts the nervous system, it impacts our body’s healing capabilities. As a result, a nervous system free of interference is able to better heal injuries such as a disc herniation fast and effectively. Therefore, chiropractic returns normal movement and function to the spine.

In addition, along with proper exercises and stretches, a spine that is moving and functioning properly is more likely to heal properly. In conclusion, this decreases the chance of needing surgery for the disc herniation.

Other options

There are many different types of surgery for disc herniations, which can involve removing bone, removing discs, or fusing multiple levels of the spine together. However, this is usually the last resort for extreme cases, as it is extremely invasive. Moreover, it can cause further issues down the road. Chiropractic is safe and non-invasive, and can drastically reduce your chances of needing surgery. As a result, your body is able to heal naturally, resulting in less chance of re-injury and further complications.

References:

  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. (2019). Herniated disc – Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatments. https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Herniated-Disc
  2. Southern Cross. (2017, December). Herniated disc – symptoms, treatment, surgery. https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/herniated-slipped-disc-symptoms-treatment-surgery
  3. Grassi, R. (2019, June 26). Chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease. Spine Universe. https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/degenerative-disc/chiropractic-care-degenerative-disc-disease
  4. Pietrangelo, A. (2017, April 21). Herniated disc surgery: What to expect. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/herniated-disk-surgery#surgeries
  5. Santilli, V., Beghi, E., & Finucci, S. (2006). Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: A randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. The Spine Journal, 6(2), 131-137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2005.08.001

 

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Disc Herniation - Auckland Chiropractor

Sitting and Posture Health

Poor sitting posture and effects on spine health

Have a desk job and worried about your sitting posture? You are right to! Over time, poor posture from bad habits during everyday activities can wreck havoc on your spine. For instance, having a desk job, driving, leaning over a cell phone, carrying a bag over same shoulder, prolonged standing, breastfeeding and caring for small children, or even sleeping.

Poor posture can become ingrained, causing and aggravating episodes of back and neck pain and damaging spinal structures. What’s more, damaged spinal structures can have other knock off effects throughout the rest of the body. The good news is, our spine is adjustable and with a few simple changes, good posture and spine health can be achieved.

Here are a couple of steps you can take immediately to improve bad posture:

1. Identify the symptoms of back pain caused by an inefficient work environment and poor posture.

  • Did something change in your environment within the same period the pain commenced? For example, a new job, a new office chair, or a new car, a new desk.
  • Is the back pain is worse at certain times of day, or week? For instance, after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer.
  • Does the pain start in the neck and move downwards into the upper back, lower back, and extremities?
  • Does the pain ease after switching positions?

Right and wrong sitting posture - office chair

2. Keep the body aligned properly while sitting in an office chair and while standing

  • When standing, distribute body weight evenly across the front, back, and sides of the feet.
  • When sitting, select a chair that’s features support good posture. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line.
  • If you need to change position throughout the day, try shifting forward to the edge of the seat with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against the support arch of the office chair to ease the strain on back muscles.
  • Try a balance / swiss ball. In this position the pelvis is tilted gently forward increasing the lumbar curve which shifts the shoulders back (similar to sitting on the edge of a chair seat).
  • Be aware of and avoid positions such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, sitting on your legs, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders up or forward, and tilting the head.
    Correct sitting posture at desk or office chair

3. Get up and move frequently.

This one is so easy to achieve, yet often the most forgotten. As muscles become strained, slouching, slumping, and other bad postures occur; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back.

Change positions frequently, in order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture. At work,  set an alarm to remind you to get up and take a break from sitting in an office chair every hour for at least two minutes. During this time stretch, stand, or walk.

poor posture sitting - stand and stretch

When to see a Chiropractor for poor posture

Many people visiting our chiropractic clinic in Auckland suffer from back pain or neck pain relating to poor posture. Our approach to treating this is very effective. We start by examining and fixing the physical problems — a process that usually involves chiropractic adjustments to correct any misalignments.

Secondly, we identify the cause of your poor posture. We find any lifestyle factors which are causing the issue. Such as assessing your sitting positions, desk environment and any other relevant triggers. We then show you correct sitting and standing positions and give you tools and exercises to prevent poor posture in the future. By correcting the root cause of postural issues, we can ensure that the musculoskeletal system remains healthy.

Neck and Upper back Pain from poor posture – Leading  Chiropractor Auckland

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Chiropractic care for Headaches & Migraines

Chiropractic care for headaches & migraines

Frequent head and neck pain can be extremely debilitating. Especially for people who work long hours, or have ongoing responsibilities. For many of us, work duties and, or parental commitments cannot just be put aside each time we have a headache. A combination of many factors, such as a slouchy posture, poor diet, and bad habits, can all increase the likelihood of developing frequent headaches and migraines. We all know how we should improve our health: good strength, eating well, reducing toxin exposure, etc.. But did you know that regular chiropractic care for headaches & migraines is also critical?!

How can Revolution Chiropractors help me?

While the use of medications offer fast temporary relief of pain, they are not a cure. Also, many drugs can have serious long term and hidden adverse side effects. Chiropractic care is a gentle and safe treatment choice. It is widely considered one of the best long term preventative options for many headache sufferers.

Chiropractic care for headaches and migraines is performed using gentle spinal corrections and adjustments. After an initial assessment, we target specific areas of the spine, neck, and muscle tissue that is causing the pain. For example, one common possibility of tension headaches is reoccurring spasms. These spasms can irritate sensitive nerve endings at the base of the neck. By having a chiropractor correct subluxations in these muscles, spasm irritation can be relieved, eliminating the root cause of tension headaches.

In taking a holistic approach to health, we can control and eliminate many contributing aggravators of head and neck pain. So for anyone suffering the ongoing frustration of stress pains caused by this commonly misunderstood condition, we must take good care of ourselves and our bodies. Be sure to book a check-up with your local chiropractor today.

If you are struggling with headaches or migraines, consider booking an appointment with a trained specialist, Dr. Samineh Baktash, at Revolution Chiropractic in Auckland, Northcote.

 

chiropractic care - headaches and migraines

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Raising Healthy Children: Tip # 2 How?

By Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani: How? Take an audit.

Whenever we want to set ourselves a new goal we have to know where we are starting. This allows us to look back in 6 and 12 months time and celebrate how far we have come. It’s hard work being a parent and it’s harder again to a parent who’s committed to healthy habits and rituals. So, it’s important to take stock and appreciate your efforts.

So let’s begin how to audit.

Q: How Much Sugar Do You Each Consume Daily

Without realizing it, most adults and children eat refined sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner via processed cereals and grains. Most of us consume an average of 53 kg of sugar each year (approximately
29 teaspoons of added and natural sugar each day), and 75 percent comes from the packaged and convenience products we eat and drink.

I’d encourage you to investigate the health risks associated with eating too many sugars (in Lunchbox Solutions I discuss the dangers of sugars and outline what are healthier ways to sweeten recipes, so that’s a great place to start).

There are several reasons should we should avoid sugars, including that they raise our insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone
that our pancreas produces and its main function is taking up blood glucose (sugar) into the cells for energy. High insulin levels are thought to contribute to multiple health issues but for this post where we are focused on raising the health status of our children — let’s keep to three main issues.

Key issues with sugar

1 High insulin levels can depress the immune system weakening our ability to fight disease. This occurs because white blood cells need stacks of vitamin C to kill bacteria and viruses. So our white blood cells work to accumulate
and store vitamin C within the cell. The problem is that vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structures so they then compete to enter the white blood cells. Guess what happens when we have lots of glucose in our blood from eating lots of foods that contain processed sugars? Glucose wins and our white blood cells become deficient in vitamin C compromising our ability to fight bugs.

2 Too many sugars also upset the integral balance of good and harmful bacteria in the gut. When we consume too many sugars we can create an overgrowth of harmful yeasts and bad bacteria which override our helpful “disease fighting” helpful bacteria — hindering our immune system.

3 Refined sugars also provide us with no vitamins or minerals. In order for them to be metabolized, they draw on the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals, depleting our body’s nutrients.

ACTION: Start a food diary and observe just how much sugar find there way into your daily diet. Here’s a tip for when looking at products and packaging — sugars tend to be any ingredient ending in “ose” — sucrose, fructose, dextrose, lactose etc. Try it — it will shock you!

Drastically reducing sugar (initially this is not an easy task) not only lightens the load on your child’s immune system it also allows your children to get off the ‘blood-sugar rollercoaster’.

Here’s another tip — cutting back sugar … life just gets better. Sugar highs and lows, make us all irritable and grumpy.

Audit Cont.

Q: How many processed foods are in your pantry, fridge and child’s lunch box?
-Literally count the number of packaged items and take an audit. If a food item has more then 5 or 6 ingredients you can bet it’s refined, altered and damaged. If you can’t pronounce the names of the ingredients in the food item, mostly likely it’s full of chemicals. I’d encourage you to become a food critic and learn what all those numbers and complex sounding ingredients really mean. Please see “Become a Food Critic” and the “Poor Choice, Better Choice and Fabulous Choice” Table in “Empower Their Choices” in Lunchbox Solutions.

Q: How many pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables are you all currently consuming each day?

-Daily consistency is key here.

Q: How many glasses of water do you drink?

Q: What sort of water do you drink?
-And I don’t mean the wet kind. One of the simplest and most important things you can do is invest in a water filter to protect your family against chemically-treated water. Most of our drinking water today contains chlorine and chlorination by-products, as well as numerous other contaminants. Drinking good quality water via a high quality filter system — promotes detoxification, enhances nutritional uptake and ensures optimal hydration.

Help your children develop the habit of drinking water throughout the day rather than juices and soft drinks. A mere two per cent drop in our body’s water supply can trigger signs of dehydration: fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math and difficulty focusing on smaller print, such as a computer screen. Many children are frequently dehydrated, suffering with concentration issues, constipation and digestive problems.

Q: How many prescriptions has your child had in the last twelve months and over their lifetime?
-With regular chiropractic care and addressing these other tips for raising healthy children, many parents delight in no longer relying on antibiotics and instead being able to rely on their child’s own immune strength.

Q: How many sessions of sweaty exercise would each family member perform each week?
-Ideally each of us should be raising our heart rate 5 times a week.

Q: How many harmful chemicals are in your personal care and cleaning products?
-Source brands that are genuinely wholesome — free of nasty chemicals and toxins which are readily absorbed through the skin and tax our body and its defence system.

It can be a “reality slap” to take an audit and look at where you currently sit along the “healthy” and “not so healthy” scale. Where you sit on the “fresh” and “disastrously preserved” scale. Remember though that every moment we make choices and have the opportunity and capacity to influence both our child’s — short and long-term health.

 

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Neck Pain – How To Get Rid Of It

If you’re sitting in front of a computer or desk for most of the day then you’ve probably run into the problem of annoying neck pain. Throw in a bunch of stress, poorly designed chairs and desks and you’ve pretty much got a recipe for neck pain that likes to visit you regularly.

With this kind of behaviour being the norm in every day life neck pain has become a common problem with multiple possible causes. But with the help of your structural chiropractor and some self-care, you can nip that neck pain in butt so that it stops visiting, visits less often or at least doesn’t stay over as long.

Here are our 3 tips for neck pain:

  1. Stretch – Prevent Neck Pain:

    muscles in the upper back and neck tend to contract and stay contracted for long periods of time. Over that time, your brain forgets what length they were in the relaxed state and keeps them short. Stretches can help remind the brain that these muscles aren’t meant to be that short for such a long period of time!Try this stretch out for your levator scapulae muscles:
    a) Rotate your head to 45 degrees.
    b) Place your hand on the same side behind your head and bring your head down toward your knee on the same side. Hold for 15 seconds and switch sides. Do that 3 times.

    For a deeper stretch, push your head back into your hand and then relax into the stretch further.REMINDER: do this gently and DO NOT pull your head too hard. Always ease into it and start with the weight of your hand as the downward force to start.

  1. Strengthen:

    A great exercise we love to give people with neck pain is the chin tuck. It helps strengthen the deep muscles in your neck and train the brain to hold your head in a more ideal position in relation to gravity.a) Looking straight ahead place your index and middle finger on your chin.
    b) Pushing back with your two fingers retract your chin back to create double chin.

  • Hold for 5 seconds and relax and repeat that 10 times.
  1. Move:

    The main source of most neck pain is that your neck is held in a position for too long. Throughout your day keep your neck joints moving. Remember: movement is life for joints and taking the time to go for a walk or even looking up and down. Putting your neck in positions it hasn’t seen for a while does wonder for preventing neck pain.

Along with all this advice, if you have stubborn neck pain, consult with one of our structural chiropractors to help put a stop to it and get back to doing your thing.

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Pull Your Head In: Posture Exercises

Today we’re going to give you some exercises you can do in your gym routine for good posture.

Commands like “stand up straight!” and “don’t slouch” were commonplace for our grandparents. When training to be a seamstress my great grandmother would have to sit as straight as a ruler or else be whipped by it. Such a method may not be approved today, which is probably a good thing however the importance of posture is as important now as ever.

Hyperkyphosis, the technical word for what we might call forward head posture, rounded shoulders or “hunchback”, has actually been shown to be linked with shortened life expectancy in elderly (Kado et al, 2004). If you are not currently elderly and you are reading this then chances are that one day you will be, and guess what, the habits you build around posture now will get harder to break as you get older. This is a good thing thought because if you instil good habits then those too will be harder to break as you age!

Being aware of your posture at work, home, when driving, sitting at the table for dinner and on the couch is important. But so is building the strength and muscles required to hold you in good posture.

Pretty much every activity we do in a day, except doing up your bra for you ladies, is done with our arms in front of us. This means our brains are very connected to the muscles on the front of our upper body, the pecs, biceps and muscles at the front of the shoulder. The muscles on our upper back like the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, lats and traps are often over stretched and under developed, almost forgotten by the brain. The issue is that these back muscles are vital to hold you in good posture.

So what must we do about it?

Don’t make the mistake of working the mirror muscles (biceps and pecs) more than the upper back. Aim to do twice the amount of reps for your upper back compared to the front of your body in a given training week. This means putting more pulling movements versus pushing movements in your routine such as:

  • Pull ups/chin ups
  • Cable rows
  • Cable/lat pull downs
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Face pulls
  • Band pull aparts
  • Reverse flies

You can do these exercises during warm ups for the main lift of the day. You can also do them as extra work after your main lift. If I am going to superset a pulling exercise with a main lift like a bench press or overhead press I will do an easier/lighter variation like lat pull downs or face pulls so as not to use up too much effort that would cause too much fatigue. More intensive pulling exercises like pull ups, barbell and dumbbell rows can be done on their own.  However you choose to put them into your routine make sure you are doing them correctly! The focus should be on initiating the movement with your back by pull the shoulder blades together and don’t let your arms and biceps do most of the work.

Here’s to building a strong healthy posture.

Kado, D. M., Huang, M. H., Karlamangla, A. S., Barrett‐Connor, E., & Greendale, G. A. (2004). Hyperkyphotic posture predicts mortality in older community‐dwelling men and women: a prospective study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society52(10), 1662-1667.

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Avoid Neck Pain While Carrying Your Bag

It’s very easy to choose fashion over function without even thinking about it. You’ve got to feel good about what you’re wearing and that often means going for the fancy purse or handbag over the practical option. However, this comes with its consequences since the weight offset can lead to shoulder, headaches, neck and/or lower pain and dysfunction.

While carrying a heavy enough bag on one side, your natural gait (walking pattern) can change since your center of gravity will shift to one side. This leads to muscle imbalances and certain muscles working harder than others, which then leads to the dysfunction and discomfort.

The following are 5 tips you can use to reduce the negative effects of carrying a bag on one shoulder.

  1. Only carry what you need
    -Lowering the weight that you carry can significantly reduce the stress and strain on your body. The amount of unused contents in our bags can be surprising sometimes. Plan ahead and know what you need on which days to make sure you’re only carrying what you need. Your body will thank you
  2. Switch sides
    -This one can be difficult due to your body getting used to carrying your bag a certain way and favouring one side. However, it’s worth getting into a habit of switching shoulders to help with your body’s muscle imbalances and asymmetries.
  3. Choose bags with dynamic/alternative strap options.
    -Certain bags have handles that you can hold in your hand or longer straps that you can wear across your body. This can help bring some variety to the way you carry your bag and the cross strap options can help better distribute the weight across your body.
  1. Consider switching to a backpack
    -Luckily, there are many stylish backpack options nowadays that you can choose from. Two strap bags are much better for weight distribution and symmetry. Get out there and see what you can find!
  2. Opt for smaller bags
    -Bigger is not better in this case. When you have a bigger bag, you’re more likely to put more stuff in there.

Using these strategies can help you make your fashion functional. Feel free to consult with us about bag options or any pinch points you feel while carrying your bag around.

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Mobile Phone Posture

As a chiropractor, I look at a fair few x-rays from week to week and a concerning pattern I am seeing is the amount of people, young people, with necks that curve the wrong way. Less mobile, due to mobile use. The cervical curve should somewhat resemble a backward C when viewed from the side, the curve isn’t as much as a C but you get the idea. Many people coming in have a straight or reversed curved yet they don’t have any history of a neck injury.

A big factor that I believe contributes to this, and I am not alone, is the way most of us are using our smartphones and devices. Take a look around the next time you are in public. You will see the majority of people, especially young people, hunch over their phones with no idea of the impact it is having on their bodies.

The normal neck curve is designed to support the weight of the head and protect the spinal cord and nerves. When this curve gets altered it will cause the joints to wear out faster, which can lead to pain and even nerve issues later in life. A few extra kilos of effective weight on the neck is added for every inch forward of the shoulders that the head is.

What can you do about it?

  1. When you are using your mobile always have the screen at eye level. When your arm tires, then take a break!
  2. A more sustainable posture is to hold the device at eye level with one hand. Place your other arm across your belly as if you were folding your arms. Then use the back of your hand to support the elbow of the upright arm.
  3. Be conscious of how you hold your head and neck when working long hours on the laptop. Keep your chin tucked and head and shoulders back.

References:

Hansraj, K, “Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head,” Neuro and Spine Surgery, Surgical Technology International XXV

Nejati P, Loftian S, Moezy A and Nejati M (2013), “The relationship of forward head posture and rounded shoulders with neck pain in Iranian office workers,” Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Vol. 28,26. 3 May 2014, http://mjiri.iums.ac.ir

Quek J, Pua Y, Clark R, Bryant A (2012), “Effects of thoracic kyphosis and forward head posture on cervical range of motion in older adults,” Manual Therapy, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2012.07.005

 

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