The technical term for this condition is Kyphosis. It is a condition that develops in response to environmental conditions. It essentially results from too much activity where the head is thrust forward and not enough movement activity in the opposite direction.
This is a common postural pattern of domesticated human society. At Dynamic Balance we refer to it as domesticated reflex posture. Postural changes that result secondary to our domesticated, sedentary lifestyles. These early stages are indicated by the head being carried forward of the shoulders on a regular basis.
To observe this, look at where an individual’s ear hole rests in relation to the center of the shoulder when viewed from the side. The ear canal should stack directly above the shoulder.
The instant the head starts to fall forward, muscle tension is required to prevent the head from falling even further forward.
Picture a bowling ball balanced on a wooden dowel. The moment that bowling ball falls out of center atop the dowel, it is going to pull the dowel toward and the dowel is going to need more power to keep the ball from falling to the ground.
The most common environmental condition that results in the head drawing forward is extended computer use and reading. It is commonly referred to as “tech neck”. If one is leaning into a computer screen for 8 hours a day, it is expected that the neck (dowel) will have to work harder and harder to keep your neck (bowling ball) in place. And as the years go by, this postural condition will progress through phases and in magnitude. The head will progressively creep forward and the muscle tension in the neck will continue to increase and expand in area.
This increased strain on the neck muscles is what results in long-term postural issues. The muscles are under constant distress and start to hurt. The longer one maintains this distress, the less relief the muscles get from this aberrant pattern. After a number of years, muscles shorten due to chronic constriction and become physically altered by the deposition of collagen due to splinting the muscle into this shortened length. Muscles that are underused will atrophy and lose capacity. Additionally, tissues become congested with the remnants of acute inflammation cycles.
In the early stages of this muscle distress, it is completely correctible. However, in the later stages of life, as the condition progresses, we see changes in the discs and bones of the spine. They become porous and less dense with calcium (osteoporosis), they can become deformed, flattened, distorted, grow bone spurs and/or other aberrations.
Luckily, these conditions can be completely prevented in the first place if we introduce a counter training strategy early enough. Counter training is training that is opposite of what you are typically used to doing. In the instance of “tech neck”, counter training would include Chin-to-Throat which pushes the head back to being aligned with the shoulders and gives the neck muscles the relief they need.
If you are a little older, you can still achieve a great deal of correction via therapeutic work you can do at home beginning with our Foundation Program. If the condition has developed to the point where movement is restricted and the condition has become painful, you can still gain relief but will likely need therapeutic intervention and instruction, as well as a higher level of commitment and longer duration to achieve correction and relief.
The longer you have any musculo-skeletal flaw, the longer it takes to correct it and the more difficult it becomes to extinguish it.
In the later phases when structural change has set in, one can often find some relief via non-surgical therapies but it will require a much longer time period, more intense treatment, and possibly require ongoing treatment to sustain the relief. For those who cannot find relief, medical interventions include but are not limited to pain relievers, cortico-steroids, and surgical intervention.
The short of it, don’t let it happen or fix it early. We have the knowledge to make this condition a thing of the past.