I recently spent 6 full days taking back-to-back advanced courses on how to better treat patients who suffer from TMJ pain and headaches, and my brain is full! The other class participants and I, all general dentists from Canada, United States, Germany, and Australia reviewed patient cases, learned new methods of treatment, and even watched treatment performed by experts in our field.
I learned this week the incredible importance of posture, and the role it plays in head and neck pain. Did you know the human head weighs approximately 8 pounds? We should be able to hold our heads in such a way that our ears are directly over our shoulders…but for several different reasons, many of us have a forward head posture. If your head is one inch farther forward than it should be, the relative strain on our neck muscles is 16 pounds. If the head is two inches forward, the relative weight on our neck muscles is 32 pounds! Have a look at the profile of people you live and work with – and see how far their head extends beyond their shoulders.
We can all do a great service to our physical well-being just by stretching every day. Don’t just shrug off bad posture and poor flexibility. There are many books available to teach the layperson how to reduce pain with sequences of stretching exercises, and we’ve created protocols for our patients to use at home. We find this especially helpful for our patients’ headaches and TMJ problems, as well as for people who have to hold poor posture throughout the day for their work – just like WE do in dentistry!
If you are a patient of our practice, be sure to ask us about our neck and overall flexibility routine the next time you’re in. Your body will thank you for it!