Category Archives: Forward Heads

TAME THE PAIN WITH MASSAGE

Baby Your Back
TAME THE PAIN WITH MASSAGE

By Karrie Osborn

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Anyone with recurring, unyielding back problems knows the beast that is called back pain. While most of us have experienced back pain that comes from overexertion or muscle pulls, the effects of back pain for many can be debilitating, excruciating, and life changing. Experts say back pain accounts for $100 billion in lost productivity and health-care costs each year and is one of the primary causes of work-related disability. Managing back pain can be a daunting and exhausting proposition. One natural avenue for finding relief is massage therapy.

Whether you’ve pulled a muscle in your yoga class or afternoon basketball game, or you suffer from long-term pain caused by an injury, back pain affects us all. In fact, when it comes to low-back pain specifically, researchers
say that 70–85 percent of the population will experience it at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, the back pain numbers are growing. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that the rate of chronic low-back pain has more than doubled in North Carolina since 1992 (from 3.9 percent in 1992 to 10.2 percent in 2006), a statistic the researchers say reflects what’s happening across the country.
Arizona-based massage therapist Geoffrey Bishop says approximately 95 percent of his clients come to him with some sort of back pain these days, while still other therapists report that nearly all of their massage clientele—from children to seniors to weekend warriors—experience this particular pain.

Obviously, the costs associated with back pain are also growing. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low-back pain alone, which is second only to headaches as the most common neurological ailment in the United States.

WHAT CAUSES THE PAIN?
Back pain is an especially debilitating condition because every movement your body makes depends on the spine functioning optimally. When back pain shows up, your whole body knows it, and sometimes exacerbates the problem by compensating in other ways to avoid the pain. It’s not unusual for sufferers to have secondary problems related to those compensation patterns.
Experts say the cause of back pain can be the result of several factors. High on the list is stress. Hunched over a keyboard, late on a deadline, bogged down in worry—many are familiar with this life. When our body is stressed, we literally begin to pull inward: the shoulders roll forward and move up to the ears, the neck disappears, and the back tightens in the new posture. “It’s an armoring effect,” says Angie Parris-Raney, a Denver-based massage therapist who specializes in deep-tissue massage and sports therapy. She says this natural response to pain can create more problems when left unchecked. “That protective mode, with the muscles in flex, can even result in visceral problems,” she says, where the pain also affects internal organs.

In addition to stress, poor posture, bad ergonomics, lack of exercise, arthritis, osteoporosis, a sedentary lifestyle, overexertion, pregnancy, kidney stones, fibromyalgia, excess weight, and more can spark back pain.
For the on-site clients Bishop sees at a manufacturing plant, the majority have some sort of back pain related to their work. While these workers have the option to sit or stand at their assembly station, Bishop says the repetitive motion they perform throughout their shift—with their arms and hands continuously extended forward—has most of them complaining of back pain. Fortunately, this employer has seen the value of massage for its employees and brought Bishop on as part of the company’s wellness program.
Bishop, who owns Stay Tuned Therapeutics in Flagstaff, says mechanics is the main cause of back pain that he sees in his practice. “It’s mechanics, including repetitive use and ignorance about preventative postures, and neglect by employers and employees to provide rest and recovery.” The past also plays a part, he says. “Old injuries and traumatic events, left untreated and unresolved, seem to dictate where stress lands in the back as well.”

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Filed under Back Pain, Flagstaff Arizona massage, Flagstaff pain relief, Forward Heads, neck pain

Forward Heads = Funky Necks…and more.

by Erik Dalton Ph.D., Certified Advanced Rolfer®

founder of Freedom From Pain Institute™

“For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head
on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”   Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

It’s not uncommon to have clients walk into your office sporting a 12 pound head that’s migrated three inches forward of their shoulders. You know prior to palpation that their cervical extensors (semispinalis, splenii, longissimus and upper traps) are in a losing battle attempting to isometrically restrain 42 pounds against the unrelenting force of gravity (Figure 1).  Rene Cailliet M.D., former director of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Southern California wrote:

  • Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment
  • Forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity. These breath-related effects are primarily due to the loss of the cervical lordosis which blocks the action of the hyoid muscles, especially the inferior hyoid responsible for helping lift the first rib during inhalation. Proper rib lifting action by the hyoids and anterior scalenes is essential for complete aeration of the lungs (Fig 2 Hyoids /ant scalenes).
  • The entire gastrointestinal system (particularly the large intestine) may become agitated from FHP resulting in sluggish bowel peristaltic function and evacuation.
  • Cailliet also states: “Most attempts to correct posture are directed toward the spine, shoulders and pelvis. All are important, but, head position takes precedence over all others. The body follows the head. Therefore, the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head”. (13) 1
The effects of poor posture go far beyond just looking awkward. In fact, the January, 2004 issue of the American Journal of Pain Management reported on the relationship of poor posture and chronic pain conditions including low back pain, neck related headaches, and stress-related illnesses. “The extra pressure imposed on the neck from poor posture flattens the normal cervical curve resulting in abnormal strain on muscles, ligaments, fascia and bones.”2 Research presented at the 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, (2009) stated; “Over time poor posture results in pain, muscle aches, tension and headache and can lead to long term complications such as osteoarthritis. Forward head carriage may promote accelerated aging of intervertebral joints resulting in degenerative joint disease.”3 (Fig.3).  It appears posture impacts and modulates all bodily functions from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the many conditions influenced by faulty posture.
“90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine” Dr. Roger Sperry,
(Nobel Prize Recipient for Brain Research)

Additionally, Dr Roger Sperry demonstrated that 90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Only 10% has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing.4 Consequently, a FHP will cause the brain to rob energy from thinking, metabolism, and immune function to deal with abnormal gravity/posture relationships and processing. The March 2000 Mayo Clinic Health Letter expounded on Sperry’s findings by reporting that prolonged FHP also leads to “myospasm, disc herniations, arthritis and pinched nerves.”

Degenerative neck pain goes hand-in-hand with balance problems especially in the elderly. Sensitive cervical spine mechanoreceptors govern the body’s ability to balance and must be perfectly coordinated with the inner ear’s vestibular balance system to stabilize equilibrium in both static posture and gait. Keeping the eyes looking forward is a basic life-preserving reflex, and as such, dominates nearly all other postural considerations. Proprioceptive signals from the first 4 cervical vertebrae are a major source of stimuli for regulating the body’s pain-controlling chemicals (endorphins). FHP dramatically reduces endorphin production by limiting the cervical spine’s range of motion. Inadequate endorphin production up-regulates the central nervous system causing non painful sensations to be experienced as pain. Figure 4 shows a couple of good mobilization techniques to restore joint-play to upper cervical fixated facets.

English philosopher Bertrand Russell once stated, “A physical system expresses its energy through function”.  Any loss of function sets off reactions within the body’s open, dynamic system which manifests as structural abnormalities…and vice-versa. When treating functional problems such as loss of joint play, therapists must look beyond the symptoms and the artificial dividing of the body into systems and treat the whole.

1. Cailliet R, Gross L, Rejuvenation Strategy. New York, Doubleday and Co. 1987
2.  American Journal of Pain Management, January 2008, 4:36-39
3 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, September 2-6, 2009.
4. Sperry, R. W. (1988) Roger Sperry’s brain research. Bulletin of The Theosophy Science Study Group 26
(3-4), 27-28

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Filed under Arizona Massage CEU, Flagstaff Arizona massage, Forward Heads, Myoskeletal Alignment, newsletters

The 42 Pound Head

by Erik Dalton Ph.D., Certified Advanced Rolfer
founder of Freedom From Pain Institute

Researchers tell us that for every inch the head moves forward of the shoulders, weight is increased by 10 pounds. Therefore, a 12 pound head held 3 inches forward, forces the cervical extensors (semispinalis, splenii, longissimus, upper traps, etc.) to isometrically restrain 42 pounds against the unrelenting force of gravity. And we wonder why so many clients present with degenerative disc disease, head pain and TMJ.

Forward Head Postures such as the Upper Crossed Syndrome (Fig. 1) results from poor sleeping positions, driving stress, computer neck, whiplash, and improper breathing habits. Pain arises from muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis, pinched nerves and overstretching of the spinal cord.

A major part of head, neck, jaw and shoulder pain is due to poor posture, tension, trauma, and central nervous system malregulation. These symptoms may manifest as fibromyalgia, myofascial tender points, TMJ, and chronic fatigue syndromes.

The following symptoms typically accompany this Upper Crossed strain pattern:

– Suboccipital pain syndromes
– Mouth breathing (sleep apnea)
– Difficulty swallowing
– Teeth clenching
– Face & neck pain
– Migraine headaches

The extra pressure imposed on the neck from the altered posture flattens the normal curve of the cervical spine resulting in abnormal strain of muscles, ligaments, fascia and bones (Fig 2).

According to the prestigious Spine Journal, 2006; 6:591-694,forward head carriage causes accelerated aging of intervertebral joints resulting in degenerative disc disease (cervical osteoarthritis) and osteoporosis (Fig.3).

The effects of poor posture extend far beyond just looking awkward. In fact, according to the January, 2008 issue of the American Journal of Pain Management, posture and function are related in that poor posture is evident in clients with chronic pain-related conditions including low back pain, neck related headaches, and stress-related illnesses.

Posture affects and modulates every function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by poor posture. According to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter Vol. 18, #3, March 2000, the effects of long term forward neck posture lead to “myospasm, disc herniations, osteoporosis and pinched nerves.”

When spinal tissues are subjected to prolonged compression, they deform and undergo a remodeling that can become permanent. Correction of Upper Crossed neck posture is key to stopping and reversing decay, degenerative disc disease and pain from headaches, rib dysfunction, TMJ, and Dowager’s Humps… but it takes time and a concerted effort using modalities such as Myoskeletal Alignment (R) (Fig. 4) to repair the damage caused by faulty neck posture.

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Filed under body mechanics, Forward Heads, Myoskeletal Alignment, pain management, Uncategorized

Cervical Facet Pain Patterns

Erik Dalton’s Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques are partly based on the reflexogenic relationship between muscles and joints.  By releasing ‘tight’ deep 4th layer muscles, Myoskeletal Therapists help open ‘stuck’, or ‘out’ joint spaces, reducing irritation in the articular receptors, chemo receptors, and nociceptors.  Specific joint positions are reached and some type of activator, client movement, is used to release spasm, and the cycle of movement/pain reduction/movement begins.

Occipitoatlantal Alignment

The charts below demonstrate the pain patterns that are produced by cervical facet joint dysfunction.

For more in depth information of facet joint dysfunction, please visit

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/93924-overview

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Filed under Flagstaff deep tissue massage, Flagstaff pain relief, Forward Heads, Myoskeletal Alignment

Forward Head Posture

Forward head posture can have ill effect through out the body, from the upper cervicals, to the plantar fascia.

Here are a few simple movements you can use during the day to assist in pulling the head back.

Strengthen Deep Neck Flexors (Img. 1)

Drape a resistance band over the base of the skull, just above the ears.  Find a comfortable place to hold each end of the band.  The closer to the body you hold, the more resistance you will feel when preforming elbow extensions.

As seen in image 1 above, perform elbow extensions, slowly.  Come slowly back to a start point, ending with elbows flexed.  By completing this movement you must contract the deep head/neck flexors, longus capitus and longus coli, in order to keep the head from flopping forward.  You may experience an ‘opening up’ of tissue at the cranial base, the occipitoatlantal joint, and a release of tight tissue in the back of the neck.  Repeat a few times a day, start with sets of 5, then 8 and so on.  Be sure to maintain proper breathing during this movement.

Deep Neck Flexors (Img.2)

Image 2 is the same movement cue without the resistance band, and is easier to do while driving to work, sitting at the computer, or on the dance floor.  In the image I use my finger as a guide, not a force pushing on the chin.  Simply glide the cranium posterior, keep the eyes looking forward.  Many people will have a tendency to look up toward the sky a bit.  The point is to open the posterior cervicals and strengthen the anterior, deep head/neck flexors.

These simple techniques can ease neck, shoulder & upper back pain and may help reduce the formation of Dowager’s Hump at the base of the neck/upper back.

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Filed under body mechanics, Flagstaff pain relief, Forward Heads, pain management