Sit up straight! Don’t slouch! How often did you hear that advice while growing up? She might have mentioned your poor posture any time you were hunched over, looking down while reading or studying. These days, we tend to adopt a similar posture while using our smartphones; it can even create a condition called “text neck”.
As it turns out, Mom was right. You really should watch your posture, because hunched shoulders and looking down for long periods of time can alter the natural curvature of your spine.
Consider this: For every inch that your head moves forward, pressure on the cervical spine increases by ten pounds. It’s not hard to imagine that twenty to fifty extra pounds of pressure, over time, could do some serious damage.
Healthy cervical curvature. The first seven vertebrae at the top of your spine are known as the cervical spine. The ideal shape of the cervical spine looks like a backward C, and it’s approximately 42 degrees when you’re standing upright. This is called the lordotic curve.
Unhealthy cervical curvature. Anything that alters your natural cervical curve can create a painful situation. Accidents and injuries are obvious culprits, but posture and even sleeping positions can also alter the curvature over time. The issue can even be as simple as using too many pillows (or one unsupportive one).
Unhealthy cervical curves can take three basic shapes:
- Hypolordotic or alordotic – this means the curve has been reduced, and may even appear straight in x-rays
- Kyphotic or reversed curve – you cervical spine has lost its natural curve, and is actually curving in the wrong direction
- S curve – the cervical spine has both a lordotic and kyphotic shape; this curve is also the most challenging to correct
Aside from pain due to poor positioning, an unhealthy curve can lead to premature degeneration of the discs in the spine. Over time, premature arthritis and joint fusion could result.
If you’re aware that your poor posture could be causing some problems for your cervical spine, schedule and appointment with us. We can evaluate your spinal curvature, perform gentle chiropractic adjustments to ease discomfort, and make recommendations on correcting your curvature problem before it gets any worse.