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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.
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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Last week, we went over one of the reasons why muscles get tight and achy, i.e. underlying weak muscles.
In today’s blog, we want to go over another reason why muscles get tight, stiff, and achy and explain it in simple terms.
This is directly related to a misalignment in spinal joints or other joints of the body. A misaligned joint can cause altered muscle function therefore altered nerve function.
When a joint is misaligned, it will have reduced and improper movement. Muscles surrounding a joint will have proper function and activation if the joint is moving freely. Otherwise, some of the muscles surrounding the joint will become lazy, weak, and inactive (hypotonic), and some become overactive and tight (hypertonic).
For example: imagine having a cast over the left elbow joint for 6 weeks making the elbow joint immovable. Upon taking the cast off, you will notice that the muscles of the left arm are smaller and weaker than the muscles of the right arm. This is because the muscles have not had to work due to the immobilized joint. Studies have shown that the same thing can happen to a misaligned joint to a lesser degree.
What comes after inactivity in muscles is lack of nerve function. Your brain and body are connected through your nervous system. If muscles are ‘switched off’, this takes away your brain’s ability to understand what’s going on inside the body therefore your nervous system also becomes ‘switched off’.
This can create a vicious cycle because if the nervous system is ‘switched off’ then the muscles will not get the proper information from the brain, therefore, making the muscles even weaker and/or tighter and this can go on for weeks and months without you realizing it (feeling it), but the lack of balance and support around your spine and other joints will create damage to important structures such as bones, discs, cartilage, capsules and so on.
We have a lot of people coming in for a certain issue and then mentioning they have another problem but it’s ‘muscular’. They assume chiropractic doesn’t help with muscular problems.
Chiropractic is in fact one of the best methods of dealing with muscular issues, or muscle pain, and at the root cause of it! If worked on properly with enough patience, you will really get the cause of the muscular problem sorted! Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?
This is what we specialize in and focus on in our office. We normalize and balance out everything from head to toe and from the original cause.
So let’s talk about ‘muscular’ issues. What do you consider ‘muscular’??
Tight and stiff muscles? Achy muscles? These are usually the answers we get when we ask people that question.
Do you know why muscles get tight, stiff, and achy?? They don’t just do it to test your patience. They are tight for a few very good reasons. None of which will go away if you don’t treat the true cause.
The muscle pain you are feeling (your symptoms) is a result of underlying weak muscles that are getting ignored and they cause the more superficial muscles to become overworked and fatigued. This leads to their tightness and stiffness.
Did you know that studies show that a specific chiropractic adjustment to the area of the weak muscles can in fact make them stronger and hold your spine and structure up properly? Just the adjustment alone makes your spine and the muscles and ligaments around it stronger. That’s amazing, right?
Wouldn’t this be helpful in the prevention of tight muscles? This would be getting to the cause of the tight muscles and not just the symptoms. You would be correcting the underlying problem, additionally, your posture would also improve.
So why don’t you do yourself a favor and pay attention to what’s truly going on underneath those poor old tight and fatigued muscles?