If I say neuromusculoskeletal do you have any clue what I am talking about? Does this even sound like a real word? There is a wikipedia page for this term, it is very short though. If we break down the word we can find three parts. Neuro – meaning neurological system. Musculo- meaning muscular system. Skeletal – meaning skeletal system. Neuromusculoskeletal system means we are dealing with all three of theses systems at once. Where would that be, might you ask. The answer is found in what we as chiropractors, or what traditional osteopaths do. We realize that these three systems are connected in the spine, that dysfunction of a segment of the spine involved the joint (skeletal system), the surrounding muscles (muscular system), and nerves at the level of the dysfunctions as well as nerves at one level above and below the segment (neurological system.) In adjusting this dysfunctional joint we restore function to the movement of the joint as well as function of the neurological muscular systems. More substantial though is that we understand that deviations from the normal posture can also affect neuromusculoskeletal function.
I can link evidence to the segmental dysfunction of a joint impacting the muscular and neurological system. I have discussed some of these in the past. A paper published January 7, 2020 in the online edition of the journal Gait&Posture found a connection between poor posture and diminished nervous system function. Gait&Posture is the one of the top journals in it’s field. This paper is of high quality and it’s authors have published a number of other high quality studies on posture and spinal structure. The purpose of the study was to measure if forward head posture had any affect on autonomic nervous system function and cervical spine sensorimotor control.
Our autonomic nervous system involves two parts the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. Sympathetic nervous system is refereed to as the flight or fight system it governs body function to help us run or fight from a stress. The parasympathetic system governs body functions such as digestion, cellular repair, immune function to name a few. As the name suggests our autonomic nervous system takes place automatically, these are functions that occur without our conscience control. Cervical sensorimotor control involves the process of receiving sensory messages (sensory input) and producing a response (motor output) in the neck. Position sensing cells in the joints of our neck send information to our brain about movement that our brain uses to help keep us balanced. This study looked at two aspects of nervous system function and how head posture might affect them.
The authors of this study measured two groups of people of similar age, gender, and weight and compared nervous system function between 80 people who had forward had posture and 80 people who did not. What they found was that between the two groups the people with forward head posture had abnormal cervical sensorimotor and autonomic nervous system function. The 80 with normal head posture did not have any significant dysfunction in cervical sensorimotor control or autonomic nervous system function. This means that head posture impacts the way the nervous system functions. Going back to my keyword, head posture impacts neuromusculoskeletal function. Poor head posture in the form of forward head posture appears to create dysfunction of the neuromusculoskeletal system. What has yet to be measured is in what way does forward head posture impact end organ function.
This is a great study that shows that forward head posture has an impact on the way our nervous system functions. The the joints of our neck play an important role in maintaining balance, dysfunction at this level will impact our balance. The autonomic nervous system controls so much of our body functions, it is possible that forward head posture may be contributing to our susceptibility to illness and disease. More studies on this is needed to confirm and perhaps map out the impact on organs and organ systems but this is a great study in helping us understand that forward head posture impact more than muscle tightness and pain.
Of course if you have forward head posture get it checked out by a chiropractor, like us, that can accurately measure it and provide a means to improve it.