Neck pain is a multibillion industry. From cervical traction devices to neck pillows and posture correctors, the market is filled with an array of options. But do these neck pain contraptions truly deliver on their promises? Today we will be discussing the cervical Denneroll.
The Cervical Denneroll is a contoured foam device specifically shaped to support and stretch the cervical spine. It aims to improve the curvature of the neck and promote proper alignment. The device is available in different sizes and is often used under professional supervision or as part of a prescribed treatment plan.
The Denneroll is developed by Australian chiropractor Adrian Dennewald. It is primarily used for conditions such as cervical hypolordosis (reduced natural curvature) or loss of cervical range of motion. The device aims to gently stretch the neck, relieve pressure on the discs, and encourage proper alignment. It may help reduce muscle tension, improve posture, and alleviate associated symptoms such as neck pain and headaches.
Does the Denneroll really work?
According to their website, yes. Denneroll claims that there are many studies to show that their cervical orthotics work. However, they were not clear in defining what constitutes a successful outcome when it comes to the use of their spinal orthotics. Based on what we could see, their primary interest is in improving loss of cervical lordosis. In other words, to improve the curvature of the spine. This is measured through x-ray imaging. Not all of their studies measure pain or posture as an outcome of interest.
In other words, the Denneroll can improve how your neck looks on x-ray. But not necessarily your pain or your posture.
How long to change neck alignment?
From what we have seen, Denneroll is not specific to how long it will take for you to see results. However, they did recommend that patients use them for between one to 20 minutes during each session everyday. If lying on a Denneroll for 20 minutes is enough to change our neck alignment, then wouldn’t all of our spines be aligned to our pillow?
Based on a recent 2022 YouGov survey, it was found that 40 per cent of Singaporeans get six to seven hours of sleep per night. 30 percent of the population reported getting five to six hours of restful sleep. In other words, most Singaporeans will spend at least five hours sleeping. Considering that even a brief 20-minute interval has the potential to impact the shape of our spine, you can only imagine the potential influence that five hours of sleep can have!
It is just not plausible that the Denneroll can lead to any meaningful change in your spinal alignment. If what the company is saying is true, then all of our spines will be shaped like our pillows. Beyond that, the amount of time we spend on our pillow will also negate any effect the mere 20-minute of Denneroll use can have.
Pillows are not treatments for neck pain
Pillows do play a crucial role in sleep quality and comfort. It is true that staying at a luxury hotel with high-quality bedding and pillows can enhance your overall comfort during sleep. However, it is important to distinguish between comfort and the actual impact on health.
Feeling comfortable while sleeping doesn’t necessarily equate to better spinal health. While luxury pillows may offer an indulgent sensation, they are not necessarily healthier for your spine.
Take for example travelling plane. Economy class seating does not offer the same level of comfort as first class. However, that does not mean it is unhealthy to travel in economy class! Similarly, the comfort you get out of your pillow, while important for a good night’s rest, is not the determining factor to spinal health.
Can I correct my neck posture?
Yes, changing neck posture is possible with consistent effort and mindful awareness. Your posture is influenced by your mood, habits, daily activities, and muscle strength. Through the right exercises, you can gradually improve your neck posture over time.
Imagine a ballerina who has been practicing ballet for years. Due to the nature of ballet, she often holds her head upright and often with a slight extension. The nature of the artform allows her musculoskeletal system to develop in a way that promotes an upright posture. Over time, this upright posture becomes permanent and her posture remains upright even when she is not practising ballet.
Ballet demands a high level of body awareness and spatial perception from dancers. The art of ballet is not only about executing precise and graceful movements but also about maintaining an acute sense of body alignment and positioning in space. This heightened awareness is crucial for the execution of intricate ballet techniques and also allows ballet dancers to maintain their upright posture.
What is the fastest way to improve posture?
The first step to improving your posture is to make sure that your body can support the posture that you want. Assuming you are aiming for an upright posture, you will need to have adequate thoracic extension, scapular retraction, and neck retraction.
Given that the muscles of your mid back (commonly referred to as upper back) is the strongest, this is one of the best places to start. Examples of exercises that can help strengthen this area include seal rows and horizontal rows.
If you feel like you don’t have adequate awareness or control of your shoulder blades, you can start with awareness exercises first. You can practise scapular retraction and protraction in push up, incline pull up, and pull up positions to train them. By being able to consciously move them, you will be able to get more out of your exercises and also have more awareness to change your posture.
Just trying to sit or stand straighter is not going to cut it
Your posture is the position your body assumes at rest and when you are not thinking about it. In other words, your current posture is the most comfortable position for your body. By forcing yourself to sit straighter or stand straighter will evitable be tiring for your body and may even cause unnecessary muscle strains. Furthermore, you will revert back to your usual posture once you stop thinking about it.
A better approach to changing your posture is to work on your muscle and joints separately. Once they are robust and capable of supporting the posture you want, you can slowly start to introduce mindful movement exercises to modify your posture at rest. This is a long process and cannot be rushed for best results.
What are the benefits of an upright posture?
Standing tall with an upright posture can positively impact mood and self-confidence. It conveys a sense of self-assurance and can influence how others perceive you. Adopting an upright posture creates a sense of empowerment within yourself. It’s as if you are telling your mind that you are in control, ready to take on challenges, and capable of handling whatever comes your way. This mental shift can make you feel more confident and self-assured in various aspects of your life.
Good posture and self-assurance form a self-reinforcing cycle. As you stand tall and exude self-assurance, you feel more confident, and this, in turn, reinforces your upright posture. This cycle continues to build on itself, leading to a growing sense of self-esteem and self-assurance.
Neck posture does not influence neck pain
It may surprise you to learn that maintaining an upright posture does not actually help with neck pain. There are many studies that have demonstrated that posture is not associated with pain. While some studies have suggested otherwise, these studies tend to be very poor in design and methodology.
When you have spent many hours sitting, assuming an upright posture may feel good. This relief is actually not coming from the improvement in your posture. Rather, it is from moving your neck after being sedentary for some time. You can also get the same experience from holding your neck an upright posture for too long. When you slouch, you will also feel relief.
Instead of focusing on maintaining a posture to help with your neck, it is more important to let your neck move freely. This promotes good muscle and joint health.
Your neck is designed to be strong and robust!
You may have also seen an “infographic” about how an forward head posture increases the amount of stress on your neck. This is unfortunately just junk science! If you look at how the figures were calculated, it is through an engineering software. It assumes the spine as a static structure without taking into consideration the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are there to support our head. There are no human studies, no cadaver studies, no animal studies that can support these numbers.
The strength of the human neck is truly remarkable. A study published in 2007 examined the neck strength in 22 cadavers. The study found that it took an incredible 250 kilograms (2.4 kilonewtons) of compressive force before causing observable damage to the neck. To put this into perspective, that’s roughly equivalent to the force exerted by 35 bowling balls!
This study highlights the neck’s ability to withstand substantial pressure and stresses. 60lb or ~30kg is very much within what our spine can support! The neck is a robust and resilient part of the human body. While it is not invulnerable, posture is not one of the reasons for your neck pain.
Understanding the neck’s impressive strength can serve as a reminder of the importance of taking care of this vital part of your body. By being physically active and keeping your neck strong, you can maintain the wellbeing of your neck and overall spinal health.
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Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.
Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.