Did you know that the hump that some women get at the back of their neck and upper back is called a dowagers hump, and according to Wikipedia one third of older women with the hump have vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis.
There is one thing that most women agree upon and that is they want to avoid letting their spine develop the dowagers hump. Once fracture has occurred the only way to reverse the hump is surgery and it needs to be done soon after the fracture.
But 2/3 of the humps are not due to fracture and according to an article in the Journal Gerontology muscular weakness plays a role. With so many people “hunching” over computers, and phones we are seeing postural stress play a big role in the development of these humps. Most importantly this means that they are preventable.
Here are three steps for preventing dowagers hump.
1. Pay attention to your posture!
When we are not hunching over our computer we are looking down at our smart phones. While this sounds like a joke unfortunately it is not. Just look around and you can see everyone around you looking down at screens from the 2 year old that mom is just trying to keep occupied for a moment, to the 100 year old complaining about how it is too complicated in between getting emails of great-grandkid pictures. I highly recommend the five minute video “look up” that talks about this cultural problem, just click here. I have seen many people show me their ergonomically perfect workstation then pull out their phone and bend their head all the way down to stare. Posture is the position of our body 24 hours a day. So the position that we sleep, watch television and read are all important.
2. Spend some time reversing the stress of the day:
The spine in our neck should have a “C” shaped curve with the opening of the C facing our behind us. When we hold our neck forward for prolonged periods of time we actually straighten our natural curve and sometimes reverse it. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on our spine and nerves causing pain, arthritis and giving us a head forward posture that you see with the dowagers hump. According to the textbook Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine for every inch forward we hold our head we increase the pressure on the spine by TEN POUNDS! Researchers at Colorado University found that it only takes the weight of a dime to reduce a spinal nerve transmission. You can see how our addiction to devices is creating an entire generation with neck problems and poor health.
One of the home care activities that patients really enjoy, is to lay flat on their back with a rolled up towel behind their neck between the base of their head and shoulders. When you do this make sure that you do not have a pillow under your head. About 15 minutes at the end of the day can be really helpful. For some patients we use a device called the posture pump that uses an inflatable bulb behind the neck to actually help correct a straightened neck and reverse humps.
3. Loosen your stiff neck
The stress that you put on your neck from the use of computers and devices causes segments of our spine to tighten and degenerate. This is why so many people complain of neck stiffness. Those tightened segments if not loosened will develop into arthritis. A doctor of chiropractic is the only doctor that can locate and treat those tightened segments. Ignoring those tight spots and only treating the muscles is like trying to use a door with rusty hinges without ever using oil to make them move better. Additionally trying to move your head back to a more normal, youthful position will be infinitely harder without addressing the stuck areas of the spine. You can now understand how important Chiropractic treatment is for a healthier posture.
For a complimentary consultation to learn how you can improve your posture click here.