Head posture has a significant negative effect on the function of the muscles in your neck. And this may have a significant impact on people experiencing dizziness or vertigo.
A recent study looked at individuals with forwarding head posture compared to people who do not. What they found was that forward head posture increased tension in the neck muscles, but also affected what is called “kinesthesia.”
Kinesthesia is arguably the 6th sense in the body. It is your body’s sense of position and knowing where it is in open space.
Close your eyes and then touch your nose. Now touch the index finger on your opposite hand. How do you know where you need to move your finger without seeing where it is and without anything else already touching your nose or opposite finger?
That is kinaesthesia.
Kinaesthesia occurs at an unconscious level. It is not something that you feel per se like pain. The nerve receptors called “mechanoreceptors” and “proprioceptors” transmit messages about position sense to the parts of the brain that are responsible for balance, equilibrium, and also general muscle tone.
Therefore, it may be possible that if there is a disruption with the normal communication of these nerve signals that people may experience tight muscles, posture issues, and even balance prob less such as dizziness and vertigo.
Sure enough, what the researchers found was that people who demonstrated forward head posture had disruptions in normal neurological communication.
Although they did not study dizziness or vertigo directly, these findings may have major implications for people experiencing balance disorders.
It is because the problem with balance, vertigo, and dizziness may not always involve the inner ear like Meniere’s Disease, BPPV, or Vestibular Neuritis.
Instead, the problem may have something to do with the alignment and position of your head!
Forward Head Posture and Atlas Alignment
Your skull plus the weight of your brain and the fluid that protects is approximately 3-5Kg, which is equivalent to a bowling ball.
Your head sits atop the C1 vertebra in your neck aptly called the “atlas.” The normal movement between your skull and atlas allows you to nod your head up and down. Approximately 50% of the total movement in your neck occurs in this one area!
It is also an area of profound neurological importance.
- The atlas protects the lower pole of your brainstem, which is responsible for many vital life functions and also is the gateway between all neurological signals between your brain and body.
- The atlas facilities the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain and also assists with venous drainage of deoxygenated blood from the brain.
This delicate area may be thought of as a “heavy flower sitting atop a weak stem.” Indeed, the cervical spine is one of the most important but also most fragile areas of the human body.
That is the exchange: we have a huge amount of flexibility in the upper neck, but we are also most susceptible to injury there.
Therefore, when people experience head, neck, or whiplash types of injuries, it may be possible to injure the alignment of the atlas. If this occurs, there is often a shift in the centre of gravity that most frequently causes the head to essentially shift forwards.
And what did we just say forward head posture can lead to? The altered neuromuscular function can lead to a host of other problems.
So pay attention again: right now, we're talking about nerve and muscle function. We have not yet said anything about pain!
Yes, neck pain, headaches, migraines, and shoulder pain are all commonly associated with issues with the head of the neck and the atlas alignment.
However, there can still be a problem even if there isn’t pain IF those other types of nerve receptors - i.e., mechanoreceptors and proprioceptors … know, those ones associated with kinaesthesia just like the researchers found! - are affected.
In those cases, people may not necessarily feel any pain at all, but may still experience other symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, and other neurological conditions.
What to do if you have posture problems, dizziness and vertigo even if your MRIs are “normal”
One of the major hints that your neck and your atlas could be involved with dizziness or vertigo is if you have already had a brain MRI that came back as “normal.”
Many balance disorders are attributed to problems with the crystals in the inner ear, viruses, fluid, and stress. However, for many people, their dizziness and vertigo symptoms do not readily go away. And even after they’ve had medical tests including MRIs, everything appears to be okay.
It can be exceptionally frustrating to feel so awful only to be told, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
Well, it’s possible that whatever is creating the problem is coming from somewhere else. And as we can now appreciate, if there is a posture problem as the result of an injury with the alignment of your atlas and neck, your dizziness specialist may simply have been looking in the wrong area.
Now, it is always important to be sure that you are not dealing with pathology that can cause dizziness or vertigo such as a brain tumor or infection.
However, if all those tests aren’t showing that the problem is in your brain, maybe it is worth looking just a little lower into the neck.
Here is where a unique form of healthcare known as Blair upper cervical care may be able to help you.
Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that focuses on the alignment of the C1 vertebra at the base of the skull and how that can affect the health and function of your entire body.
Unlike forms of general spinal manipulation, the Blair upper cervical procedure does NOT use any neck twisting, cracking, or popping. Instead, it is a highly-developed and customised approach that has a long track record for helping people with a variety of ailments where many of the routine treatments have not succeeded.
A Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor first performs an assessment to determine if you may actually have a problem with the alignment of your atlas and if it may be related to your forward head posture, dizziness, vertigo, or other problems.
If so, you may be recommended for a series of precise and customised x-rays that help to demonstrate the exact orientation, direction, and degree of any misalignment in your neck. With this information, your Blair chiropractor may be able to devise a personalised treatment approach to correct the alignment of your atlas.
If this is able to occur, the principle of Blair per cervical care is that your body will be able to function the way that it is designed, and as a result able to heal itself naturally from the problems it experiences including dizziness and vertigo.
Indeed, with dizziness, vertigo, and forward head posture, there are a number of potential “wildcards.” Nevertheless, the alignment of the atlas may be one of the most important pieces to the puzzle for helping people with forwarding head posture, and especially if they experience dizziness or vertigo.
Blair Atlas Chiropractor Brisbane
Dr. Jeffrey Hannah is the principal Blair upper cervical chiropractor of Atlas Health located in North Lakes (north Brisbane).
Our mission is to help people dealing with chronic health challenges including posture, dizziness, and vertigo issues find long-term solutions so that they can enjoy the quality of life that they desire most.
Dr. Hannah is an advanced certified instructor in the Blair technique and is an international lecturer, author, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical specific chiropractic care.
If you would like more information, we would like to offer a complementary 15-minute phone consultation where you can speak directly with Dr. Hannah to discuss your particular condition and ask any questions you might have so that you can decide if care may be right for you.
Simply click the Contact Us link on this page, or phone us direct at 07 3188 9329 to arrange an appointment.
We hope this article has been informative and valuable, and that we may be able to assist you.
Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”
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