Understanding “Forward Head Posture”
Understanding forward head posture and how this creates the potential for injury and chronic musculoskeletal problems is extremely important. Normally, looking at someone from the side, the ear should be directly over the shoulder. As you can see in the image, for every 1 inch the head moves forward, it increases the force stressing the head and spine by 10 pounds. Not only does it increase the loading on the spine, which over time can lead to degeneration and wearing of discs and joints in the spine, it also causes certain muscles and ligaments to become “facilitated.” This means they must contract much harder to maintain that forward head posture. Think about holding 12-15 lbs (the weight of a bowling ball and the weight of your head), out away from your body. It would be harder to hold there than close to the body, right? Well, this is like the weight and stress we are placing on our spine and weight-bearing joints.
This produces very predictable problems in our spine and weight-bearing joints.
- Lower cervical (neck) problems such as disc bulges, herniations and arthritis
- Forward rolling shoulders which causes rotator cuff injury, tight pecs and shoulder pain
- Lower lumbar disc loading and degeneration increasing the likelihood of lumbar disc herniations
- Thoracic kyphosis which causes that unpleasant hump in our upper and middle back
- Knee and hip problems because our weight is not being distributed properly in these joints
Avoid Forward Head Pressure
We want to help our patients understand the cause and effect relationship of common health problems and this problem is progressive in nature and should be prevented at all costs. We are seeing it increasingly in children because of cell phones, computers and tablets. The human body was not designed to sit for 8-10 hours a day which is what most of us, including our children, are doing. When we sit, our posture is “Closed” meaning most of our joints (ankles, knees, hips, lower back, mid back and neck) are flexing. This closed position is the opposite of standing where we are in an open position. Our spine will wind up in the position the we put it in the most. If we “flex” forward too much, this is the alignment that we will adopt. If you notice that your posture or the posture of your children looks like the picture above, then it is time to do something about it. Not only has forward head posture been associated with neck pain and back pain, but it also has been correlated with migraines, high blood pressure, and decreased lung capacity. It is serious, and we would love to help in the process of regaining your posture. Call or schedule an appointment today to get your posture moving in the right direction!