Taylor Swift is a near-perfect human. She’s talented, charming, beautiful, kind, and generous. She wins awards, sets records, and wins hearts with each new release.
It seems like there’s almost nothing Taylor Swift can’t do…except stand up straight.
I’m not Taylor’s doctor so I don’t actually know if her back or neck hurts. But if it doesn’t hurt now, I can assure you that it will someday…and probably soon.
If you take away the money, the mansions, and the millions of fans, Taylor Swift is just like many of the patients I see every day.
In fact, there’s a good chance she has a lot in common with you too.
Taylor Swift’s “anterior head” posture could lead to back pain
I was at home with my family watching a big music awards show recently. Taylor Swift was performing…and winning awards as usual. As she walked across the stage, I was surprised to see that her posture was so dysfunctional.
I even paused the program to show my kids and explain how and why this common posture is such a problem.
Let’s start at the top.
As you can see from virtually any picture taken from the side (check Google Images… I’ll wait), Taylor has an “anterior head” which means that she holds her head in a forward position. This posture is sometimes called “tech neck” because it often occurs in individuals that spend lots of time in front of screens, large or small.
Just look at anybody staring at a smartphone (like the lovely lady on the right there) and you’ll see it right away. When the head is way out in front like that, the neck (or more precisely, the cervical spine) pays the price.
Here’s why: The average human head weighs about 12 pounds. Think about holding a 12 pound bowling ball down at your side…no problem right?
Now hold it way out in front of you…feels way heavier right? That’s the same way your cervical spine feels trying to hold that 12 pound head way out front like that.
The bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and the discs within the cervical spine are constantly overworked by this posture and are at increased risk of damage and injury as a result.
The most common problems that people experience from a forward head posture are pain in the neck itself which can radiate down into either or both arms, including numbness and tingling in the hands or fingers.
Taylor Swift may be suffering from “tech neck”
Let’s look at the area where the neck becomes the upper back…the “cervico-thoracic junction” if you like technical terms.
At the base of the neck in the front, there is a group of muscles called the scalenes, which are almost universally tight and sore in individuals with a forward head posture.
Those tight scalenes can compress the nerves that run down both arms and can contribute to additional neurologic symptoms in the arms, wrists, hands and fingers.
At the same level on the back side of the neck, the forward head posture causes a prominent bump right at the point where the curve of the neck transitions to the curve of the upper back.
As you can see in the illustration to the right, the normal curves in neck and the upper back are each in the opposite direction, just like the curves in the letter “S” as the upper back. When the head is in a more forward position, the angle between the opposing curves shifts and results in a prominent bump at the base of the neck.
A little further down and we reach the mid back, also known as the thoracic spine.
In cases of “tech neck” like Taylor Swift may have… we also often see an excessive curvature of the thoracic spine as well. This curve is technically called “kyphosis” and judging from red carpet photos you can easily find online a couple of Taylor Swift’s handsome human celebrity friends… Julia Roberts and Rob Lowe… share this trait.
When texting we make ourselves vulnerable to neck & back pain
This posture is the result of asymmetrical forces from muscles across the upper chest and the upper back acting on the thoracic spine.
In the front, we usually find excessive tension in the muscles of the upper chest, especially the “pectoralis minor” muscle, and trigger points or knots within the muscle will cause an intense pain when you push on the pec minor muscle just below the collarbone.
At the back and in between the scapulae (shoulder blades), we generally find that the scapulae are “protracted” or widely spaced which causes the upper back to appear rounded. This is the result of relative weakness in the rhomboids, the trapezius, and others within the “scapulothoracic” muscle group that help to stabilize and support the shoulder blades.
It is fairly simple and straightforward to correct the postural problems we covered here. There are some basic exercises, stretches, tips, and tricks that take very little time and effort and can quickly and effectively reduce pain and restore healthy posture.
And check out these five tips to avoid “tech neck” neck and back pain from orthopedic surgeon, and Healthier Talk contributor, Dr. Stefano Sinicropi.
- Kindness, caring, compassion
- Open-minded about alternative medicine
- Friendly (dare we even say…cool?)
Well, you’ve come to the right place. HealthierTalk is proud to introduce you to Dr. Joshua Levitt… a man who actually checks all the boxes, and more.
Dr. Joshua Levitt is a naturopathic physician who is widely known for his expertise in treating both common and complex medical problems. In practice, Dr. Levitt draws on his broad knowledge of the science of both conventional and natural medicine and the art of combing the two into a “best of both worlds” treatment strategy. He has over 15 years of direct clinical experience using a unique blend of nutritional therapy, herbal medicine, and physical medicine to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions. His patients and his readers praise him for the ability to educate, motivate, and inspire them with stories and advice that helps them help themselves. In addition to his work as an author, Dr. Levitt owns and runs a private practice in Connecticut, where he is also a clinical preceptor for the Yale School of Medicine.
Dr. Levitt’s unique perspective was informed by an education that includes a degree in physiology from UCLA, a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the prestigious Bastyr University, formal residency training in integrative medicine in Seattle, and experience with thousands of patients.
Dr. Levitt is also the author and creator of several popular books, and many articles and videos, which all demonstrate his passion and commitment to bringing information and products to you that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. You can see more from Dr. Levitt at UpWellness.com.
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