We all look down too much. Our modern culture has us frequently looking down at devices, keyboards, papers and books. However, our neck is designed for us to be looking in the opposite direction. All the muscles in the back of the neck are erector muscles; our hunter-gatherer bodies should be looking forward and up.
Almost all neck pain and arthritis in the back of the neck are a consequence of our world today and the many factors which have us looking down.
The same is true of the lower back. Pain in this area is the most common medical problem for men and women over age 50, and the frequency increases with age. An enormous amount of medical care is devoted to treating low back pain, which is the most frequent cause of disability.
Both our neck and lumbar spine have a convex curvature with erector muscles to support looking up and leaning back. While there is a mismatch between our evolutionary body and our modern lifestyle, problems are avoidable and if caught early enough, very curable.
Robin McKenzie may be the most famous physical therapist of all time. He practiced in New Zealand and early on learned from his patients what worked. He spent over 40 years perfecting what is known today as the McKenzie Method, exercises designed to counteract all the looking down we tend to do. While he passed away in 2013 at age 82, his work continues at McKenzie institutes all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling books Treat Your Own Back and Treat Your Own Neck, which have gone through many editions, even after his death.
For clients with back and neck pain, I regularly recommend the McKenzie Method as photos and videos of his simple exercises (similar to those pictured here) are readily available online.
Attention to posture for both the neck and back with frequent “looking up and leaning back” will help keep a person’s neck and back healthy for a long time. Simple breaststroke swimming is also an ideal exercise for neck and low back pain and maintenance.
Dr. Scherger is founder of Restore Health Disease Reversal in Indian Wells, a clinic dedicated to weight loss and reversing chronic medical conditions. To schedule a consultation or for more information, visit www.restorehealth.me or call (760) 898.9663.