Proper neck posture occurs when the spine is in balance with gravity and the neck is being evenly supported by the shoulders. Often, people develop habits of poor posture due to a lack of strength in the neck and shoulders and in the upper-body regions needed to support the neck. Improper neck posture is one of the primary sources of neck pain.
Incorrect neck posture contributes to poor body posture, in general. To correct this, individuals should be sure that the shoulders, ears, hips and ankles are all perfectly aligned with one another while standing. When sitting, the back should be in a stationary, upright position with the head properly balanced and supported by the neck which, in turn, should be equally balanced and supported by the shoulders.
Incorrect neck posture while working at a desk is a frequent cause of head and neck pain for students and office workers, particularly those who use a computer monitor. To avoid this type of neck pain, ergonomics experts recommend that attention be paid to correct neck posture while working. Specifically, a computer monitor should be placed at eye level so that proper posture can be practiced while reading from a monitor. Also, documents needed while working on a computer should be placed in a position so as not to require individuals to consistently move the head back and forth, as this movement causes repetitive stress to the neck and shoulders.
In order to avoid head and neck pain due to poor posture, health experts also believe that nighttime posture is just as important as daytime neck posture. Experts, therefore, recommend sleeping on a firm, but comfortable mattress. If lying on the back, a thin pillow should be used to support the head. To lie on the side, however, a thicker pillow is needed to maintain correct head posture while sleeping. Sleeping on the stomach is never recommended, as it places the head and neck in an irregular position that is not supported well.
For some, poor neck posture occurs as the direct result of weak muscles in the shoulder and back areas, which are necessary for good neck support. For these individuals, strengthening exercises may be needed first. The importance of poor posture is not to merely avoid current pain symptoms, but also to avoid long-term spinal degeneration that occurs as a result of poor posture as individuals age. Such degeneration may cause further complications, such as nerve damage, joint swelling and stiffness.