A lot hinges on the neck as it connects the torso to the head and also protects the nerve endings and spinal cord as they emanate from the skull. It performs the crucial function of supporting the weight of the head and its flexibility allows the head to move and bend in different directions. Let’s take a brief look at the integral parts of the neck:
Bones of the spine: There are seven components of the cervical spine and are referred to as C1 to C7. The forward gentle curvature of the spine is called cervical lordosis. Another significant bone of the neck is the U-shaped hyoid situated near the base of the mandible. The anterior neck muscles are attached at the point of the hyoid.
Muscles of the neck: The muscles of the neck can be categorised based on their position. Prevertebral, postvertebral, and lateral vertebral muscles are located in the front and behind the spine, whereas lateral cervical muscles are attached to the side the neck. They facilitate several important functions such as speech, swallowing and yawning.
Weight of the head: Weight of the human head is the same as the standard bowling ball and falls in the range of ten to twelve pounds. This weight goes up exponentially up to 60 pounds when the neck is bent forward. Since the muscles of the neck support the weight of the head, they must be strong enough to perform the vital task.
The flexibility of the neck: Composed of seven cervical vertebrae, the neck has a tremendous capacity for extension, rotation, and flexion. To maintain the flexibility of the neck try stretching and rotation exercises or yoga. But remember to try these exercises under the strict supervision of an expert.
Neck pain: The position and structure of the neck make it vulnerable to injury and wear and tear. The cause of injury could be also because of sports or accidental trauma. Neck pain could also spring from injury to muscles, blood vessels or nerves.
Postural pain: This kind of a pain in the shoulders and/or neck is a result of poor postural habits, which keeps the neck, shoulders or head in a fixed position for long durations. These neck problems are a result of today’s lifestyle and can be exacerbated by sitting in front of a computer continuously or even prolonged mobile phone use.
Cervical spondylosis: This condition is caused by the continuous stress on the intervertebral discs and cervical vertebrae composing the neck. Considered to be a part of ageing, it can cause mild to severe neck pain.
Importance of a good posture: One way to minimise or prevent neck pain is to ensure proper posture. This also helps the bones and muscles in your neck to balance and support the weight of your head. Avoid an improper posture at any rate, as your neck muscles, ligaments and tendons will have to work even harder to support the head’s weight.
The neck is a little but complex part of the human anatomy. It is important for us to take good care of it to avoid lifelong pains and problems.