Forward head posture (FHP) is one of the most common postural problems. Things like driving, computer work, watching TV, playing video games and even carrying bags and backpacks have forced the body to shift forward. The body will remember an action, neurologically and muscularly, when it is done repetitively and eventually gravitate towards that action or posture even if it causes pain or dysfunction. Trauma due to injuries like whiplash can also contribute.
FHP can actually flatten the natural curvature of the neck leading to fatigue, tight muscles, TMJ (jaw) pain and headaches. Left untreated it can also inhibit blood flow to the spinal cord, cause numbness in the arms and contribute to early degeneration and arthritis.
Here are a few things you can do keep a good head on your shoulders!
- Ensure that the top 3rd of computer and video screens are level with your eyes and 18″ – 24″ from your face.
- Stand against a wall with a small pillow at your midback. Move your head back to touch the wall. Hold for 3 counts & do 20-25 reps. This exercise will help to re-train muscles and properly align the spine. In the car, it can be done while you’re waiting at stoplights!
- A FHP can be a consequence of slouching. As your shoulders curve forward, your chin pushes out and forward as well. To remedy this, try this simple hack: thread a ruler along your upper back under your shirt. For women, it can be easily placed under your bra straps. Every time you unconsciously slouch forward you’ll feel the ruler press against your shoulder blades and correct yourself. Try this for 20-30 minutes at a time to help retrain your muscles.
- Choose a chair that has a back and use it! Many chairs have a contoured back that will help support the spine from the bottom up but they can only do that if we lean back into them. Instead of perching on the edge of your expensive chair, bring your hips all the way back and allow it to do its job.
- If you don’t have a contoured chair using a back support while sitting or driving reinforces the low back curve and helps bring the head back over the shoulders.
- Maximum backpack weight should not exceed 15% body weight, especially in children. Never carry backpacks over just one shoulder and always use the waist & chest belt to neutralize the load. If you must carry a heavy shoulder bag, alternate sides often.