For this month's Educational Empowerment we are highlighting research hot off the press from the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology August 2018. The study focused on how prolonged neck flexion affects neuromuscular control of neck muscles.
I'm sure you've heard Dr. Van talk about proprioception but we'll do a refresher. Proprioception is the sensation that tells our brain where our body is in space & gravity. Proprioceptors are most dense & abundant around joints. There are two components to proprioception; a conscious and unconscious. Proprioceptions work in a feed-forward manner. Meaning future movement is based on past information. Thus the accuracy and coordination of movement is determined by the accuracy of the information that it receives. Accidents, injuries, sedentary lifestyle, chronic postures etc. can interrupt and impair normal proprioception. When normal proprioception is interrupted this results in sensorimotor dysfunction. Higher sensorimotor dysfunction is associated with more pain and higher risk for injury.
Highlights from the study
38 participants between 20-35 years old
Participants were place in neck flexion for 10 minutes.
Accuracy of head & neck movement and muscle activity were evaluated pre & post.
Muscle activity was delayed and errors in head positioning were significantly increased.
Dr. Van's Reflection
Static neck flexion is the scientific term for looking down. These days with phones, tablets, computers, etc. looking down for only 10 minutes happens quite frequently. This study was very specific in picking young healthy participants to demonstrate that this happens to everyone regardless of age or current health.
Your neck is a highly complex system that has an extremely important task. Your neck is responsible for holding up your head & brain. Your neck is also extremely neurologically dense. What does that mean? It means there are many nerve receptors relaying lots of neurologic information to the brain. This is how an everyday task such as reaching to grab something in the kitchen can cause pain. It is the last straw or the straw that broke the camel's back. It is the accumulation of microtrauma. Luckily this is what Chiropractic care designed to do. Adjust dysfunction spinal joints restoring the proper biomechanics which restores the proper neurological information from the spine.
What you can do about it
Bring phone up; as close to eye level as possible
Stick to specific tasks when using technology, avoid aimlessly browsing
When in your car occasionally sit up straight and bring your head back to the head rest