The neck is one amazing structure!
Although a giraffe's neck is 1.5 - 1.8 metres in length, it contains the same number of vertebrae as a human neck.
The human neck is an incredible structure! It starts at the base of the skull and through a series of seven boney blocks called vertebral bodies it attaches to the upper back.
The first vertebra in our neck is called the Atlas. It is named after the Greek mythological figure who was burdened with 'carrying the world on top of his shoulders' much like the way in which the neck supports and carries the weight of the head.
The head weighs on average between 10 - 13 pounds, so the neck (cervical spine) literally shoulders a big load. In addition to supporting the head, the neck's anatomy allows for the head's incredible mobility, including rotational, forward / back and side bending motions.
The vertebra in the neck also provide a passageway for vertebral arteries to ensure proper blood flow to the brain. The neck houses and protects the all important spinal cord and provides a passageway and protection for nerve roots that supply the head, shoulders and upper limbs.
For the most part, the cervical vertebrae are extremely durable and resistant to injury.
Most neck pain is the result of wear and tear and not injury, although if we suffer injuries too that can only make the situation worse.
What does all this mean?
If we understand the importance of the neck and what an incredible structure it is then we might take more care of it and give it all the help it needs to be able to function the way it needs to.
Can we undo what has gone before? In some cases yes, in some cases no but we can certainly try to stop problems worsening and gain relief by doing all the right things whenever possible. We are all so busy so it's not easy but just a few minutes a day focusing on the spine and neck can really make a difference!
- Brigitte Marshall