The key word today is proprioception and how this relates to neck pain.
Truth is, we all need more of this and it get harder as we get older.
Hi, this is Dr. Andrew Arnold, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre.
Let’s start with a definition.
Try standing still, feet together, knees locked, both hands out in front. Now close your eyes. A child will sway a little. An adult maybe able to keep their eyes closed before falling for a minute. 50+ and it may be a few seconds if that.
This is called a Romberg’s test and is used to examine a part of your brain called the Cerebellum involved in balance.
When we have our eyes, open this provides real-time ‘proprioceptive’ feedback. As long as we can see a fixed point we can stay upright.
If we’re on a boat and cannot see land, we have not fixed point of reference. This is known as ‘sea legs’ and often leads to sea sickness. Our balance centers go out of balance and this creates nausea and maybe vomiting. If we can see land, then greatly reduces this impact.
Let’s go back to the Romberg test. If your able to stand hands out front with eyes closed, try crossing them across your body. This greatly reduces your center of gravity. Think of a tight rope walker. They use a long bar to increase their center of gravity giving them better balance.
For those smarties who can do this for say, 30 seconds lets up the ante. Now try using a ‘Dura Disc’ or wobble board.
Now you have an unstable foundation. Kids have no issue managing this. They can kneel on a gym ball and balance no problems. They can stand one legged on a dura-disc, easy.
This is because their balance apparatus is much more finely tuned than ours as adults.
This includes their Cerebellum, their inner ear, their balance related cranial nerves and muscle and ligament receptors…all working in unison.
As we age our neurological communication diminishes, our inner ear fluids containing those important crystals becomes more viscous and our muscles and ligaments becomes less pliable and responsive.
Now, not all these functions diminish at the same time. One will be affected more that another which then places stress on those functions that are working ok.
This brings me to neck pain and proprioception.
There is a reflex called the ‘neck-righting’ reflex. Basically, this is the ability of your muscles and ligaments to contract and relax to enable your eyesight to remain level at all times.
If you spent a lot of time out at sea its possible these neck muscles would be working pretty hard.
If your inner ear apparatus is not working well, or if you’ve had a stroke again these muscles maybe working overtime.
We have more positional receptors per cm at the back of necks than anywhere else in the body.
If you have chronic neck tension and pain its possible your neck-righting reflex is working too hard.
The muscles are fatiguing.
Chiropractors offer specific spinal adjustment and muscle reception reset to help ‘manage’ this.
It’s important to evaluate your particular situation first however, to try to ascertain the exact cause, not always easy.
There are also key exercises to help reset these receptions and possibly re-train your neck muscles.
Finally, it’s important to look to the feet. If your foundation is unlevel i.e. your weight bearing unevenly a custom Chiropractic foot orthotic might be worth looking into.
For more information simply call our reception on 5998 4554 or make an appointment with one our Chiropractors.
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About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor and ACTP accredited Business Coach.
Andrew is married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
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