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One Cause, Many Ailments: How One Simple Imbalance Can Lead To Many Chronic Problems

May 11, 2010 by  

One Cause, Many Ailments: How One Simple Imbalance Can Lead To Many Chronic Problems

When considering the assessment and maintenance of health, there are radical differences between the methods of Western and Eastern medicine. On a broad scope, it can be said that where Western medicine focuses on content (specific body parts and their associated symptoms), Eastern medicine focuses on context (the symptoms as they relate to and effect the entire body).

Consider this list of 10 ailments. Did you know that all of them can be caused by (or stem from) the same underlying condition? Can you guess what it is? Give it a try; here’s the list:

  1. tension-type headaches
  2. tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
  3. “knots” in the back of the neck
  4. “rocks” in the shoulders
  5. “sore” chest muscles
  6. irritability
  7. poor sleep
  8. chronic “achy” feeling
  9. numbness or tingling of the arms and/or hands
  10. trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain)

Give up? The answer is Forward Head Posture (FHP). All 10 problems can be associated with this same underlying cause.

FHP Described
FHP is one of the most common postural problems we experience on a chronic basis. It is our modern lifestyle that is responsible for it—as we’ll see in a minute. In essence, FHP is the result of either repetitive forward head movement, or the carrying (holding) of the head in a position that is forward of the shoulder plum-line.

Proper postural alignment finds ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and ears all falling along the same vertical central line. The relatively heavy head must rest directly on the neck and shoulders, like a golf ball on a tee. Yet, FHP finds the head sticking out, jutting forward of the shoulders, with the ears in line with the chest or front of the deltoids.

Cause And Effect
FHP can be caused by many things. Here is a list of five of the more common ones:

  1. looking down toward your hands while typing or reading
  2. looking into a microscope
  3. sitting improperly with shoulders rounded and back hunched
  4. driving with your head more than 2 to 3 inches from the headrest
  5. carrying a backpack or heavy purse slung over one shoulder

These are not all of the causes of FHP, but enough to make the point. The problem is that repeated forward and/or downward facing postures cause concurrent hypotonic (lengthening) and hypertonic (shortening) of several major muscles (i.e., lavater, rhomboid, trapazious, pectoral), degeneration of cervical (neck) vertebrae and irritation of cervical nerves.

According to literature from the Mayo Clinic, “FHP leads to long term muscle strain, disc herniation, arthritis, and pinched nerves.” (Mayo Clinic Health Letter, V.18, #3, March 2000)

Did you know that pinched or irritated nerves, tightened muscles and isometric contraction (which occurs when the neck must hold upright a forward leaning head), all cause pain as a result of “stagnation of blood, fluids and qi energy). And when there is blockage or stagnation, there is pain.

What You Can Do
Now that we’ve identified a single underlying cause of many problems, the next step is correcting the problem. And what better way to do this than following the simple idea of returning the body to homeostasis: That is, rebalancing what is imbalanced. Here are four simple things you can do to correct (balance) FHP.

• Lying Head Raise: Lay face down on the floor with your hands overlapped and held on your lower back. Lift and extend your head and shoulders up, while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for three seconds, and repeat 15 times. Do this three times per day.

• Chin Tuck: Hold your shoulders straight. Stick your chin out to the front and hold for three seconds. Pull your chin in as far back as it will go and hold for three seconds. Repeat six times. Do this three times per day.

• Chin To Chest Stretch: Overlap your fingers and place both hands behind your head. Use your hands to push your head down so your chin goes toward your chest. Do NOT lower your head and then press with your hands, as this defeats the idea of the stretch. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and return to the upright position. You should feel a stretch between your shoulders. Repeat three times. Do this three times per day.

• Doorway Stretch: Stand with both feet parallel behind (but in the center of) a door frame. Place one arm 90-degrees along the side of the doorframe facing you. If your right arm is touching the frame, then your right foot takes a long step forward. Be sure to bend your knee, as if you were really trying to walk forward. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. If not, turn your body to the left. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat three times then switch sides. Do this three times per day.

Here are a few simple ways to adjust your daily activities to prevent FHP from taking hold in your body—or returning after balance is achieved:

  • Make sure the top of your computer screen is level with your eyes, and about two feet away from your face.
  • Be sure to carry a back pack squarely over both shoulders to balance the weight distribution.
  • If you carry a heavy purse or duffel bag, it is better to sling it diagonally across the torso.
  • Have ample lower back support while sitting or lying for prolonged periods, as a lax position leads to slouching, which can lead to FHP.

You may remember from a previous article that we discussed three causes of pain, illness and disease as stemming from a deficiency, excess or stagnation in the body? Well, FHP leads to all three at the same time. Excessive forward head posture leads to lengthening of upper back muscles (excess), which causes shortening of pectoral muscles (deficiency), which leads to impinged nerves (stagnation), which leads to pain. And all this simply because the body does what it has to in an effort to maintain balance.

It’s better to maintain balance on our own and to prevent such imbalances to take hold in the body. When the body does it on its own… it hurts so much more.

— Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley

is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. The Wiley Method provides a revolutionary way of providing recovery and prevention of chronic pain, illness and disease. Grab your FREE COPY of Dr. Mark Wiley's "The 3 Secrets to Optimal Health" HERE.

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  • Rev. Anthony Kiem

    I have tried several time to reach you, my dear Bob, but each time a secret hand incapacitated my computer. I believe you are a prophet God sends to save America from dark powers…I hope my message will reach you this time.

  • Mike In MI

    So? My, my, how interesting. The most hated, maligned, disparaged and despised healthcare provider groups in the world finally gets a little recognition – ‘course without being named (if that’s any sort of recognition).

    Sounds exactly like what my chiropractor told me about 30 years ago.
    The medcal doctor told me not to go to a chiro. Those guys “have been known to break people’s back.” “Besides that, it’s crazy to think bones cause health problems.” Well, that led me to do some studying into these matters. Guess who made more sense? And, who cleared up the neck and head pain problem in a short while, when the other hadn’t been able to do anything for a long, long time? Oh, an with the pain gone I was able to sleep. And, when I could sleep at night I wasn’t always confused, fatigued and falling asleep at wierd times. I could think and focus, work and study, and I wasn’t so irritable and short with people for no reason. Not a bad result for a health care system that only needs its hands, or very simple, reuseable tools to CHANGE MY WHOLE DAMNED LIFE. Oh, and I started to stay healthier for longer and longer periods of time.
    How could all that be? He said he was doing things that helped my nervous system work better. So? He very patiently explained: “Well, the nervous system is like the main frame in a computer network. It’s the command and control unit for everything that goes on in the system.”

    Since that fit perfectly with some stuff I’d observed in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman with the Marines, I said, “Let’s try it. Can’t fail any worse than the stuff the M.D. is screwwin’ up on. If it works I might even stick around.” See, what I’d seen the M.D. do in the Navy was say, “Well, I can’t figure out what’s wrong with you but here take these. It will kill the pain.” But, the grunts came back all the time saying, “It never helped.” But, it did affect their reaction and judgement functions, I believe, ’cause a lot of those guys took those pills with them to the morgue.

    • Save America Susie

      Yes, I think you are right in that the AMA Docs learn to PUSH PILLS rather than to solve the problem at its root cause. When I was diagnosed with low back arthritis, the first words out of the doctors mouth were, “OK, what pain med would you like?” She was shocked when I said “That’s OK, I won’t be using that. I don’t want to be dependent on drugs!” I will just take some over the counter stuff once in a while if its bad, or soak in hot baths. Or do back exercises. She was so used to doling out the pills, it blew her mind. Taking extra Calcium actually helps too.

      Many problems also are Nutritional in nature and doctors don’t spend a lot of time “boning up” (pardon the Chiro pun)on Nutrition. Though there is a place for pain meds, Chiropractors also have something to offer. My husband was helping his Uncle move a heavy Safe years ago, and bent down to pick it up. “POP!” went his back. The only thing that really helped was the Chiropractor. But he is not one to go to any doctor hardly ever. Does NOT currently go monthly as the Chiropractors recommend. But we can see that they have much to offer in addition to normal medical knowledge.

      It is clear that the AMA over-did the Antibiotics thing and now people are becoming resistant. What they should have been doing is eating a lot of Yogurt to replace the good bacteria that was killed off. Eating too much SUGAR can kill good bacteria off as well. So I always try to keep a lot of Yogurt on hand. I think its really a 3 way deal. Nutrition, Medicine and Chiropractic possibilities. And I am sure even Acupuncture has its value….And then there’s always the GREAT PHYSICIAN.

      • Anthony

        I AM A BIG Chiro-Fan. More to the point, my Chiro from southeast Wisconsin, who used the subliminal approach as opposed to the Beach-boy-surfer-dude-venice-beach-pummpin-iron type Chiro, who grabs ya and then wrneches ya this way and that. My fav Chiro had a T-plunger, that used 5 PSI on a spring-loaded plunger process and it worked miracles totally above and beyond what the basic MD had for me. When I went back and bragged… he WAS pi$$ed. The regular MD, that is.

        Adjusting your vertebrae is in line with the spinal column and all nerve endings originate from your spine. If you can’t fathom extrapolating from that source information – I can’t help you. Just know this – Chiros save mankind every day of the waking hour. YOU can’t tell me otherwise.

      • s c

        SAS, your first sentence answers a big question, and should help people understand what is so wrong with American healthcare. Our MDs are trained to treat sumptoms. They are trained to avoid solutions. They are taught not to get to the heart of a matter.
        It is no coincidence that by following their training methods, American MDs insure their continuing cash flow, and they are looked at as ‘peers in good standing.’ We’re not supposed to make the conection between an MD’s indoctrination and health problems that don’t get better.
        In effect, the training of an American MD does nothing to help a patient get better or stay healthy. Money, it seems, is the #1 goal of American healthcare, as far as an MD is concerned.
        Here’s to your good health, and here’s to the millions of Americans who need to look at most MDs as the medical version of an incumbent, career politician.

  • Donna

    I have been treated over the past year for this condition with Botox injections. They are painful but by the
    3rd session you will experience remarkable relief. Once the
    muscles calm down, the ability to stretch & rehabilitate your neck becomes much easier. Not many doctors are
    knowleable or choose to not be in this diagnosis & treatment. Hopefully this will change!

    • http://personalliberty PFFFF

      Why inject toxic drugs that don’t address the root cause as chiropractic does?…
      “(Mike)And, who cleared up the neck and head pain problem in a short while, when the other hadn’t been able to do anything for a long, long time?”

  • Dianne

    It’s true for me that good posture helps my many back and neck issues. Most people think I am 2-3 inches taller than I am. I truly believe karate saved my back ( along with chiro, massage, and back exercises). The chiro and massage is not every day, but karate is most days for me (traditional karate). There is a HUGE emphasis on proper posture and movement. And you move. Keep moving. It hurts way worse when you stop.
    As a teacher(Sensei) of karate for kids, I make sure the posture is good and we do LOTS of core challenge and back strengthening exercises. This keeps me moving and active.
    For me, taking care of my back and neck is a lifestyle thing. I prefer a (mostly) pain free life. I’ll keep moving, thanks.

    • Anthony

      I hear it in your words. You are a strong woman. Stay focused!


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