Did you know there is a special movement that only one part of your spine can bio-mechanically do? It is your skull and first cervical segment and the range of movement is called protraction and retraction (sliding forward and backwards without bending). You do this movement by sticking your chin out and tucking it in, as if your giving yourself a “double chin,” all without looking down or up. Outside of the spine the only other places where such movement exists is the jaw and scapula’s (shoulder blades). All other motion such as flexion and extension (bending forward and backward), lateral flexion (side bending), and rotation can be accomplished with all other vertebrae (spinal segments).
As you know, the upper part of your neck is very important because that area protects your brain stem and other tissues vital to your health. Plus, your upper cervical spine leads the rest of your spine. That is why Neuro-Structural shifts in this region can be the cause of a myriad of secondary conditions such as leg pain. Not because they are directly involved, but because the compensation due to a shift causes downstream and upstream secondary effects and distorts the rest of the spine.
This area is called the C0-C1 (occiput and C1) junction and the total movement forward and backward is about 25 degrees. The reason this matters is because almost everyone is missing this critical range of motion! Because of sitting, working on computers, looking down, texting, sticking out your chin so you don’t have chin rolls…. ;) we are in an epidemic of people who can’t pull their chin back. So this creates a cascade of issues to occur in the spine such as neck tightness, tension headaches, shoulder pain etc.
Solution: At Platinum Chiropractic our solution includes specific adjustments to correct Neuro-Structural shifts and restore proper alignment and motion first. Then we teach specific neck exercises, advise on appropriate sleeping positions, along with other self care, in order to compliment the correction of Neuro-Structural shifts. One of the easiest and most important exercises to practice is tucking your chin in and pushing your head back over your shoulders. Do this when you stand, sit, even lifting weights. Try doing isometric (static) holds by retracting and pushing your head into your headrest of your car when you’re stopped at a red light (avoid looking up so you can maximize this range). It is a good way to release muscular tension as well as strengthening your neck.