The Weak Link I believe is in your neck. This area is the most neglected area and overlooked and not exercised in society today. While it is estimated that over 80% of the population have back pain at one point in their lives and this most common complaint in my chiropractic office. We all focus on CORE and back exercises which is essential to help with low back strength and stability because we sit most of the day. But according to both Spine and Pain Journals, neck pain has an annual prevalence rate exceeding 30% among adults in the United States. Nearly 50% of individuals will continue to experience some degree of neck pain or frequent flareups of pain also. Among adults 20 to 70% will experience neck pain that interferes with their activities of daily living. Statistically, neck pain is consistently ranked in the top five disabling disorders in the United States
The adult head weighs approximately 10 to 11 pounds and is centered between your shoulders. There are 26 muscles in the neck which included 10 pairs of two and two sets of three to be precise. The neck muscles are attached to various bones of the skull, spine, thoracic rib cage and the shoulder girdle. The cervical spine encompasses seven vertebrae and serves as a protection to the spinal cord. The segment of the spine most susceptible to injury is the cervical spine based on its anatomy and flexibility.
According to data from DataReportal in 2022, the average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes looking at a screen every day (computer and phone combined). One of the most common repetitive injuries today is Text Neck Syndrome or Forward Head Posture. This is where young and old, adults thru teenagers spend countless hours at a time looking down at technology. On the average American spends 2.7 hours per day communicating and talking texting on their cell phone. U.S. smart phone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average 67 texts on a daily basis and receive another 1,831. Young Americans send almost ten times as many texts as Americans over 55. The number of texts being sent is on the rise, especially among teenagers age 13 to 17. The average teenager now sends 3,339 texts per month. Handheld Communication is such a regular aspect of our life that everyone does it so many times today that it has become a Global epidemic especially within our young teenagers. This puts an extremely high load on the neck which can cause pain, stiffness, and headaches. According to Dr. Adalbert Kapandji (Physiology of the Joints), for every inch your head moves forward, it gains 10 pounds in weight. This is one of the common reasons that people have neck problems with the daily technology that we constantly use from a computer, smartphone, and iPad. Trauma is the most common cause of cervical injury, and this can include motor vehicle accidents, falls, blunt trauma, sports-related or diving injuries.
Strengthening your neck can have a positive effect on all of the muscles in the body which include traps, deltoids, and upper/middle back. A strong neck can reduce your risk for injury, the severity of a concussion, effects of stress, and general acute and chronic neck pain. Because the neck is used for all sports, it is essential that you keep it strong, flexible, and healthy not only to prevent an injury, maintain your health and reduce the long-term wear/effects of poor posture on your spine.
As I pointed out earlier with the focus of everyone doing Lumbar CORE exercises and that the level of neck pain that society has and several of the causes. I feel the weak link is your neck. There are many different types of exercises that you can do from just simple hand resistance movements (front, back and sides) or even specific TheraBand exercises. Additionally, there are several strengthening exercise tools that I have used over the years which include neck harness with attached weights or the Iron neck (this works your neck in 360 degrees with frictional resistance). Doing some form of these exercises regularly will enable your entire neck muscle structure to be strong, flexible and help you maintain ideal posture. This not only will reduce pain levels, improve daily activity function, and prevent injury in your future. So, start working your neck muscles on a regular basis just like your CORE exercises, because your neck could become a strong link in your health, Thanks for reading, Dr. Joe