This is a photo of Tina, a new client. You can see that her head is carried too far forward from her shoulders, normal is when a plumb line runs from the centre of your ear to the centre of your shoulder. Tina has Forward Head Posture, one of the most common postural problems we see today.
Impact of a Forward Head Posture
- Muscoskeletal system,
- Reduced oxygen supply
- Nerve impingement
- Reduced lung capacity
Impaired Muscoskeletal System
For every inch your head moves forwards, it gains ten pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your upper back and neck are concerned, because they have to work that much harder to keep the head from dropping onto your chest. This can lead to:
- Upper Crossed Syndrome – As your head moves forward, your centre of gravity shifts. To compensate for this shift your upper body drifts backward. And this leads to muscle tightness in your chest
- Lower Crossed Syndrome – To compensate for this upper body shift, this can lead to a shift in your lower body resulting in Lower Crossed Syndrome. This includes a tight lower back, weak stomach muscles, and leg muscle imbalances.
- Chronic pain in the neck and shoulders
- Disc herniation or ‘slipped disc’
- Deterioration of the joints
- Neck arthritis
- Upper Thoracic Hump, which can devolve into Dowager Hump
Nerves at the base of your skull and neck can become impinged (or trapped) as the muscles tighten. This can lead to tension-type headaches, tingling and numbness in the arms, and facial pain.
Reduced Oxygen Supply to the Brain
Oxygen supply can be reduced from the heart to the brain as blood flow via the main arteries is constricted around the neck. This can lead to migraines, epileptic seizures, memory loss, and poor balance.
Reduced Lung Capacity
Lung capacity can be reduced by up to 30%. This is because the action of a muscle which contributes towards respiration can be blocked by the Forward Head Posture. This can lead to heart and vascular disease.
How do I Know if I have a Forward Head Posture?
You can test whether you have Forward Head Posture yourself. To do this, stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels 2-4 inches from the baseboard. With your bottom touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your neck and the wall. If you can get within two inches at the neck, you are close to having good posture. If not, your neck posture is protruding forward and is subject to deterioration of the joints and discs.
How can I Correct my Forward Head Posture?
- Become aware of how you are holding your head, and how you should be holding it.
- Implement a corrective exercise plan to stretch the tight muscles (chest, neck, upper back) and strengthen the weak muscles (mid-back muscles)
- Make changes to how you sit at your desk
- Avoid sleeping with too many pillows
- Employ a certified personal trainer to work with you who can assess and help correct your posture
- If you have a severe Forward Head Posture you could consult a chiropractor for treatment
It is important to look at correcting your Forward Head Posture, left untreated it can get worse.