Do you know what part of your spine is the most important when it comes to maintaining correct posture? Is it your lumbar or low back? How about a bit lower in the sacral area? Maybe it’s the middle to upper portion, known as the thoracic region. Or perhaps the most important area of the spine is the little left-over portion of a tail that you sit on called your coccyx. In my books, “The Smart Spine System,” “Alive Posture, Stretching for the Spine” and “Isometric Gymnastics by Dr. Borschenko” which you can find online at www.spinanorma.ru, I focus on the way the cervical or upper portion of the spine works and I also explain some scientific experiments that have been done with animals, specifically with cats.
Harmless studies have been conducted on these beautiful animals to confirm the idea that the most important factor concerning posture is the position of the head and the cervical spine. Think about how often you sit at your computer with your neck bent and your head tilted toward the screen. In this position there’s no way you can hold your back straight and maintain correct posture. The reason this is impossible isn’t simply a mechanical disconnect between your cervical vertebrae and the rest of your spine. Your nerves and reflexes also play a vital role in the mechanics of positioning. The position of one part of your spine causes changes to occur in the work and position of all its other parts. These changes take place automatically; we don’t know they occur and can’t usually control them.
The cervical vertebrae are the most movable of all the vertebrae. Within them are two vertebral arteries that feed your brain oxygen-rich blood. It doesn’t take much to cause these arteries to spasm. For example, you may lie in an uncomfortable position with your head turned to the side for several hours. Or you may twist your head or neck awkwardly. When these arteries spasm or get narrow, blood flow and oxygen to your brain is restricted and you may get a headache, noise in your ears or you may become dizzy. This condition is called “vertebrobasilar insufficiency.” In my publications, the cause and development of this condition is described.
In addition to the arteries inside the cervical vertebrae is also the spinal cord itself. Think about this: The head weighs about 5 pounds, which is 7% of the average person’s total body weight. The sedentary work of people who drive vehicles all day or sit for hours at desk jobs causes a continuous bending of the cervical spine. The weight of the head is constantly exerting a downward force. As a result, intervertebral discs and joints deteriorate, discs herniate and bone spurs develop. These cause pressure on the nerves and severe complications such as myelopathic syndrome (compression of the spinal cord) can result. Movement of the head and neck in an attempt to “work out” the cervical vertebrae can dramatically worsen the condition and cause an even faster progression of the disease.
The most serious complication of cervical disc degeneration is cervical myelopathy which means the deterioration of the cervical spinal cord. Signs and symptoms of myelopathy include a progressive numbness and paralysis of the hands which leads to disability. People who are employed in jobs that involve sitting in an unnatural position with their heads lowered are at an increased risk for injuring their cervical vertebrae and spinal cord.
Traditional intense active head rotations place a heavy load on the cervical vertebrae and vertebral arteries. The desire to “work out” cervical discs and joints may result in substantial aggravation of pain or a progression of degenerative spinal lesions.
Isometric exercises provide an excellent alternative treatment for cervical degenerative conditions. You can use simple static-isometrics for the cervical spine anytime, anywhere: at work, on a trip or at home. These exercises will not cause increased pain. They can help to release muscle spasms, improve blood flow in the vertebral arteries and even improve brain function!