Bowling Balls and Neck Pain

As a doctor, there are often difficult concepts I try to relay to patients with the use of analogy so they can understand better what is going on with their bodies and why I prescribe the treatment I do. One analogy I share illustrates the relationship between torque and neck tension. Our head sits on top of our neck and weighs roughly the same as a bowling ball. When our head sits squarely over our shoulders, that weight is nicely distributed throughout our spine, so we barely even feel it. However, when we have a forward leaning posture obtained over time from excessive computer use or the like, this changes.

Imagine holding a bowling ball. Do you hold it close to your chest; why would that be? This is because you know the further out from your body you hold it, the more difficult it will be and the shorter the time you’ll be able to do so. This force is called torque, and applies just the same to your neck and head. For every inch forward your head sits from neutral, it’s as if your neck is holding an extra 10 pounds of weight. Additionally, the muscles are at a disadvantage to support that weight, adding exponentially more strain to your neck. This strain has consequences.

Our bodies can put up with a lot—they’re designed that way. But just like your arms would tire and give out after a certain point from holding that bowling ball out in front of you, so will your neck. This process will take a while, but when our neck finally hits that threshold and says “Welp, I’ve had enough, you’re on your own now,” we injure ourselves. These are the kinds of stories I hear:

  • “I just looked up at the sky and suddenly I couldn’t move my neck.”
  • “I was putting away cereal into the cupboard and suddenly felt a sharp pain shoot down my shoulder.”
  • “My child jumped into my arms and I got a severe headache.”

So what can you do to keep this from being your story? At Better Chiropractic, your premier Gilbert Chiropractors are ready to help you Feel, Live, and Perform Better. This means not only getting you out of pain, but teaching you stretches and exercises to promote better posture and care to ensure you keep from injuring yourself in this way.

So please come in so we can catch a problem before it ends poorly. Our treatment plans are short, so you never have to worry about getting care you don’t need.