Is your neck trying to tell you something? Do you have tension, headaches, tight, burning shoulder muscles, or ‘gritty’ noises when moving your head? Maybe you notice restriction when cycling, driving, or turning to pull on your seatbelt?
Bishopston posture teacher Clare Chapman believes these experiences do not inevitably come with stress or ageing. They are not something we have to just grin and bear. A better approach is to look at people without neck pain. Let’s start by rediscovering the posture you had as a small child…
As infants we all had beautifully straight necks which balanced our heads almost effortlessly. Unfortunately this alignment often distorts over the years and our heads drift forward, perhaps slumped in front of desks, computers and tv, peering through varifocals, or simply reflect those around us.
Interestingly, adults in traditional rural societies usually retain the tall neck position we have lost. We see the functionality of this alignment when they carry significant loads on their heads.
The further forward the neck and head are held, the more the muscles tense, and the greater the wear and tear on the discs and vertebrae. As the back of the neck shortens, nerves and blood vessels can be compressed, producing tingling and circulatory problems in the arms or hands. The upper back becomes stiff and rounded.
Your neck, like the whole spine, wants to maintain its natural position, length, flexibility and strength in order to be healthy and comfortable. Posture expert Esther Gokhale teaches this simple yet profound principle with great success at her Institute in California. She shares some of her methods as ‘Gokhale Moments’ on YouTube. You can also find free information about your postural health at www.gokhalemethod.com, where Clare’s Gokhale Method courses in Bristol are listed.