I often tell my patients who come into the office with their back and neck hunched forward, to straighten up or they will end up looking like a giant cocktail shrimp. While this does elicit a chuckle between us, I then remind them of why being hunched forward can lead to many other health disorders besides having a pain in the neck or in the back. I use the shrimp as an example because it is something that everyone can visualize how it looks once it is cooked: curled forward like a ball. When this position occurs in the human body, it can affect many different systems of the body negatively. This posture can be seen commonly on the neck. In this article I will discuss how the neck/ head juts forward, why this position can cause several problems to the different systems of the body, and what types of acute or chronic issues it can cause to the body.
Forward head posture, also called ‘tech neck’, ‘scholar’s neck’ or ‘reader’s neck’, is a very common postural problem, affecting between 66% and 90% of the population. For simple purposes, we will refer to this phenomenon as ‘Shrimp’s Neck’. Not only does this posture look unattractive, it can cause problems within the musculoskeletal, neurological, and respiratory problems. When the skull leans more than an inch forward over the 1st vertebrae over the neck (atlas), this signifies that you have a forward head posture.
According to the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, forward head posture can affect the body by:
- Causing the muscles in the front of the neck to become weaker and the muscles in the upper back and shoulders becoming over- stretched and getting stiff and tight.
- The head shifts forward increasing the weight and the load of the neck – an inch of forward head movement equals to extra 10 lbs. of weight on the neck! This can lead problems to the musculoskeletal, neural, and vascular system.
- Constant forward head posture can lead to chronic, abnormal pressure in the muscles and nerves on both the neck and shoulders. This results in rounding of shoulders (both shoulders going forward). Discs on the neck and the upper back eventually become herniated in an effort to compensate, resulting in higher loads being placed on the back and shoulder muscles (trapezius).
Shrimp’s Neck also impacts the body’s alignment to center of gravity. This imbalance affects the torso and every joint in your body as well. It tries to adapt to different positional changes being altered by balancing several control mechanisms within the body. It leads to decreasing your natural ability to balance when it is engaging in different activities along with overusing different muscles of the body that is not typically engaged, often increasing the risk of injury to the body.
Shrimp’s Neck can be caused by many harmless activities.
- “Poor posture”
- Weakness of your neck muscles
- Previous injuries to the neck and shoulders
- Use of incorrect sizes of pillows when sleeping
- Frequent sleeping on a sofa with your head propped on the arm rest
- Extended usage of the computer, electronic devices such as phones, tablets, portable gaming devices, etc.…
- Prolonged driving
- Carrying heavy backpacks (weight of the backpack should be 10% of the person’s body weight)
- Engaging in sports involving the dominant use of one side of the body (i.e. golf, tennis, hockey, baseball, etc.)
- Certain professions are more at risk due to repetitive movements of the body (i.e. hair stylists, massage therapists, writers, computer programmers, painters, etc.)
How do you know if you have a Shrimp’s Neck? Try this simple test to see...
- Stand with your back along with the heels positioned shoulder width apart against a wall.
- Press your buttocks against the wall while the shoulder blades are touching the wall. If you are able, you can squeeze the shoulder blades together to help it get aligned to the wall and into a more neutral position.
- If the back of your head naturally touches the wall, then you are fine. However, if you are having difficulty doing so, you have a Shrimp’s Neck and you need to get it corrected.
Not treating a Shrimp’s Neck can lead to many health issues within the body such as:
- Chronic neck pain
- Herniated or bulging neck discs
- Chronic shoulder pain
- TMJ/ Jaw pain
- Tension headaches
- Chronic back pain
- Poor vision
- Pain around/ in the eye
- Bell’s Palsy
- Facial pain
- Twitching of the eye
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic sinus problems
- Labored, difficult breathing
- Low stamina
My Name is John Kim
I have been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. When I first started my acupuncture career, my primary goal as a practitioner was to help people anguishing from living with pain everyday of their lives. I have seen on numerous occasions what chronic pain can do to a person physically but also seen how it can debilitate a person’s psyche as well.
Throughout the years, I have studied, developed and incorporated a very unique treatment protocol that has successfully treated and effectively reduced pain levels on chronic pain patients. I have combined traditional methods of acupuncture along with modern, research proven techniques to help reduce chronic pain symptoms in a safe, non- chemically addictive, and effective process.
If you have any of the following:
• Headache/ Migraine
• Arthritis/ Stenosis
• Nerve pain
• Neck/Back pain
• Fibromyalgia pain
Do not hesitate and contact me!
I am here to help you to feel your very best!