Do you feel like your head is sitting too far in front of your shoulders? Of maybe you feel like your neck muscles are constantly getting tired from trying to hold your head on straight.
We here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY call that – Buzzard Neck. Can you see it? The rounded shoulders and the protruded head? The term was actually coined by one of our patients who you will hear about later.
What is Buzzard Neck?
There are four distinguishing features of a Buzzard Neck. Let’s see if any of these sound like you:
#1 – Your forehead is forward.
When you see a picture of yourself do you always notice your forehead first? Well, that is because your forehead is protruding out further than it is supposed to. Your head is meant to be stacked on top of your shoulders. This decreases the tension in the muscle of your neck (because they don’t have to work so hard to hold your head on!). But, with a buzzard neck, you tend to have a forward forehead with increased stress put on the muscles in the back of the neck.
#2 – Your chin is sitting in front of your chest.
Do you feel like your chin juts out in front of your chest? You can check this right now by trying to tuck your chin backwards. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If you only have a little bit of motion then you are sitting in a good position. However, if you can really move that chin then you can be assured that you are sitting with your chin too far forward.
This position causes increased stress to the joints in the neck. You may find yourself getting low grade headaches after you have been in this position for too long. And, putting this much stress through your neck can irritate the nerves. This will manifest in numbness and tingling in your hands.
Not to get too far off track here but many people confuse this with carpal tunnel syndrome. They assume that the numbness and tingling in their hands is due to a problem at their wrist. This isn’t always the case. It can actually be due to a problem in your neck. This is especially true if you have numbness and tingling on both sides. If both your hands are numb and tingly I can pretty much guarantee that you have a neck problem.
Back on track now…
#3 – Your shoulders are rounded towards each other in your front body.
If you feel like you are constantly trying to push your shoulder backwards to get a deep breath then you probably suffer from rounded shoulders. This usually goes along with the forward head posture because it creates more movement in the thoracic spine. This is the middle of your spine where your shoulder blades sit.
Having your shoulders rounded forward “unlocks” the thoracic spine so your head can sit farther forward. Which really isn’t a good thing but it’s how our body compensates.
#4 – You are getting an old lady hump in your upper back.
Every see an older lady who is stooped forward and seems to have a hump on her upper back? That is technically called a “Dowager’s Hump” and it is due to the forward head, rounded shoulder posture being maintained for many, many years.
Over time, this hump will actually cause changes in the bony structure of your upper back. Which means that it cannot be changed at that point. So, if you are starting to see this hump now, you want to fix it before it becomes permanent!
The beginning of a Dowager’s hump is what brought “Daphne” (not her real name) in to see us. Daphne was also concerned because she was having hand numbness and tingling that was not responding to chiropractic care. She had been noticing the hand symptoms intermittently for a couple of years but it was the beginning of the hump that brought her in to see me. You see, Daphne’s mom has a hump and Daphne did not want that in her future.
Daphne’s goals when we started were to eliminate her hand numbness/tingling and eliminate her hump. She did get those results but she also found an improved ability to breathe deeply and increased strength through both her arms.
You see, Daphne had always thought of herself as “weak” but the truth was the muscles were not sitting in the correct place! Once we improved her alignment and eliminated her hand symptoms, Daphne found that she was able to lift and carry her groceries with ease.
At the beginning of the sessions, Daphne had asked if the hump had a name. And then she decided to change the name to “Buzzard Neck”. She says she would see pictures of buzzards who sit with their heads so far forward and feel like “Hey, that’s me”!
Now when she comes in for monthly “tune ups” Daphne laughs about her previous Buzzard Neck. She says that sometimes she feels herself getting back into that position and reminds herself “Hey, I ain’t no Buzzard Neck”.
And, you got to admit, the name Buzzard Neck is way more fun than Dowager’s Hump.
So, How Did Daphne Get These Results?
#1 – We got her spine stacked up correctly.
If your spine doesn’t stack up then your head is going to be falling forward. This causes the stress through the joints in the upper neck that can lead to headaches on a regular basis. The forward head position can also cause the muscles in the neck to work too hard. This increased tension through the muscles cannot be resolved until the spine is stacked up straight.
#2 – We opened up her wings so she can breathe normally.
Those shoulder blades on the back of your body are what I call your wings. Makes sense, right? Rounding your shoulders in front of you pulls the wings from the back of your body to the side of your body. This makes it hard to do daily tasks like lifting because you don’t have your wings on straight.
#3 – We changed her daily habits that were compounding her problem.
Now, this may sound super simple but it’s actually one of the most difficult tasks that we work on for two reasons.
Reason #1 is that we have to restore normal joint motion in order for the spine to stack up correctly. Because you are not able to achieve normal posture if your joints don’t move right.
Reason #2 is that we had to change long held movement patterns. And, that is really tough. You see, our body wants to move in the most efficient pattern which is the pattern we have been using for years. However, this pattern can end up being destructive. It takes repetition and intention to change these movement patterns.
Daphne is a different person now. She is completely confident that she can do whatever activity she chooses. Recently Daphne mentioned that she cleaned her entire house in one day. She was so excited to be able to get it done and not have it drag on all week. Also, she feels safe returning to horseback riding knowing that she can achieve the proper alignment to safely perform on a horse.
I love seeing that Daphne no longer lives in fear of what she can or cannot do. Instead, she is able to enjoy new adventures again without concern that her pain is going to come back.
Do you want to learn what you can do to get rid of your Buzzard Neck? Then I encourage you to contact us for a Free Discovery Visit. This is how Daphne got started with us. You can rest assured that the Discovery Visit is 100% free with no obligation to continue treatment with us. We understand that you may have been let down by other providers in the past or maybe you didn’t get the results you were looking for.
This 100% free visit gives us a chance to hear your story and gives you a chance to get all of your questions answered. Then you can decide if we are the best fit to help you get rid of your Buzzard Neck. Simply click here to sign up for that Free Discovery Visit.
And, say good bye to your Buzzard Neck!