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Posture. Swan-neck

By Editorial Team (2)
January 30, 2022

Great actors can easily play different roles. For example, dancers in the ballet “Swan Lake” by Pytor Tchaikovsky become real swans. In real life, you can’t often find a beautiful human neck that resembles a swan. But whatever a neck may be, swan-like or a very short, the cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae that connect two important parts of the skeleton: the skull and the chest. Remember physics and biomechanics again: the pivot of the first lever is located near the upper two cervical vertebrae. This provides maximal head mobility. At this point, the lever is situated near the base of the skull. Try to move this lever: Bow your head, while holding your neck motionless. Move only your head, your skull. If, while bowing, a fold appeared under your chin then you did everything right.  Now make the reverse move: tilt your head back while holding your neck motionless again. Repeat these movements several times. Now you know that your head can move without your neck. This is a very important moment! You just learned how to use the upper lever of your neck!

Let’s go down to the seventh cervical vertebra. This is where the upper cervical lever is located. A movable neck is connected with a motionless chest in this area. Let’s see how this lever works. Bend your neck forward again without moving your head in the area of the upper lever (the upper cervical vertebrae). It will seem like you are trying to reach your chest with your chin. Now make the reverse movement: tilt your neck back without moving your head back. Repeat the movements and feel the function of the lever.

Of course, these levers do not work alone. But it’s easier to understand problems in the neck by taking into account the work of each lever. The most frequent reason for incorrect neck posture is excessive bending of both these levers. Our massive head usually hangs down under a heavy load of all our knowledge or all our problems. This is our most frequent incorrect neck and head position while we’re eating, sitting at the computer, working or studying, and while riding a bus. If we stay like this, we’re sure to be in a bad mood or, even worse, suffer from depression. 

The consequences of this position quickly develop. In only a short time, a headache comes on. This is because there are a lot of muscles on the back of the neck. These muscles support the head and are connected to the skull. Holding the head in a crooked position strains the muscles. A muscle spasm develops in the neck and spreads to the fibers of the skull and the blood vessels of the brain. This causes a headache, giddiness, a foul mood and all sorts of problems. (see anatomy at the site WWW.SPINANORMA.RU).

The second really vulnerable area for a muscle spasm when you’re doing sedentary work is the seventh cervical vertebra. Many shoulder muscles are connected to this vertebra. Women often suffer from an accumulation of fatty tissues in this area, and that’s why it seems like a hump often appears. The spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebra protrudes more than the other ones. This is called “vertebra prominens.” Spasms of all the muscles connected to it can be very painful and they can last for days and even weeks.

Many people think that blood vessels are just “tubes” that blood runs through. But this is too simple of an understanding of blood vessels. Not everyone knows that blood vessels also have muscles. That’s why they can contract, and can also have spasms, which cause blood circulation disorders. Another reason for blood flow from the head, skull, and brain is due to neck muscles which spasm and affect blood flow along the vessels. This can cause feelings of “spreading,” pulsation, and headache. One of the old investigation methods is reovasography that helped to detect this functional disorder, the cause of which is usually a muscle spasm due to bad posture.

If a condition like this continues for months and years, a disease such as vegeto-vascular dystonia can develop. So the initial cause was incorrect posture and body positioning, and then a blood circulation disorder appeared. The patient starts complaining of arterial pressure changes, palpitations, various painful feelings in the heart and even the feeling of “fear of death.” So bad posture can even affect the heart itself.

If there is too much bending in the lower lever and unbending in the upper lever, then another widespread condition of incorrect posture appears. Many people spend all day at the computer. After awhile, the neck and back get tired of holding the head straight, so the lower part of the neck starts to bend and the person stoops over. But he or she still has to look at the monitor and finish the work, otherwise there will be no salary! So they unbend their head in the upper lever too much. In addition, at the end of the day, the figures and letters on the monitor get blurry, so the worker has to get closer to the screen and this makes the curve even worse!

This person looks like an animal leaning out of the burrow. Such a position is very inconvenient and tiresome. So the person has to lean on the table and support their head with their hand.

In this position, the muscles are not strained too much. That’s why many people can sit in this position for hours. But the vertebrae are leaning on each other, causing overloading of intervertebral joints.  The blood vessels in the neck suffer in this position as well. That’s why people have a headache at the end of the day.

We see this picture every day and there is no less tension in it than in the famous “Swan Lake” by P. Tchaikovsky.


  • The work of the upper and lower neck levers defines head and neck position.
  • Incorrect poses are often connected both with too much neck extension and too much neck flexion.
  • A muscle spasm with incorrect posture causes a spasm in the blood vessels, resulting in a headache.

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