Suffering from neck pain, shoulder pain or upper back pain? Feeling like your head juts forward? Feeling increase tension and pain in the jaw? Starting to develop regular headaches?
Could this all be related? Yes, these may be the symptoms of forward head posture.
What is forward head posture?
Forward head posture is a common problem now in our modern lifestyle. It occurs when the neck slants forward, placing the head further in front of the shoulders rather than in line with the body. This is okay for short periods, however if you stay here for prolong periods and adapt this posture this can lead to several problems, these include:
- Muscle ischaemia, overload, imbalances and pain
- Tension-type headache
- Tempero-mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
- Increase stress on the cervical spine
- Reduced cervical spine range of motion
- Reduced shoulder and arm range of motion
- Increase dorsal kyphosis
- Decrease in height
- Early signs of disc degeneration and osteophyte formation
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands due to nerve compression
Causes of forward head posture:
- Head leaning forward or backings for prolong periods
- Poor ergonomics setting
– Sleeping with head elevated too high:
- Too many pillows
- Incorrect pillow high
– Texting posture maintained for prolong periods
– Result of faulty posture :
- Pelvic and lumbar spine posture
– Lack of development of back muscle strength
How do I know if I have a Forward head posture?
Here are two simple screens you try at home.
- Take a side view photo of yourself
- Draw a line down the mid like of your torso
- Draw a line down your ear canal
- If the second line is in front of the first line, then you have a forward head posture.
- Place your back completely flat against the wall.
- Make sure your shoulders, lower back and bottom are in contact with the wall.
- Do not over arch your lower back
- Look straight ahead
- Test is positive if, the back of your head does not come into contact with the all naturally.
How to prevent forward head posture?
Prevention is the key when it comes to forward head posture. Follow these suggestions to bulletproof your neck:
- Avoid prolonged static postures
- Position hand held devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets etc) and computer screens is level with your eyes to reduced stress on both the head and neck
- Take frequents breaks from desk and smartphones (every 30 minutes for two minutes)
- Ensure you have your workstation is adjusted to your needs.
- Avoid resting or sleeping with your pillow too high. Sleeping with your head elevated too high can cause muscles to adapt to this position.
Chiropractic, Physiotherapy and Osteopathic treatment for Forward Head Posture.
Your health practitioner will spend time assessing your full postural alignment to determine where the cause of your forward head posture may arise. Following the assessment they will explain and educate you on exactly what is going on and how you will work together to improve your forward head posture.
The aim of the treatment will be to correct your postural alignment, muscle imbalances and restoring joint mobility and flexibility. Your chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist will spend time identifying these imbalances and prescribe specific exercises to correct this. In addition, our practitioners will provide ergonomic advice to prevent further irritation.
Hands on therapy will initially to focus on joints and soft tissue mobilization, active an passive stretches of tight muscles to de-load areas that are under tension and progressing corrective exercises to improve muscle strength and endurance, posture retraining and home exercises program to future proof your posture.
5 simple exercises you can try to help forward head posture.
1. Neck stretch
- Sit upright on a chair
- Place your hand on the collarbone on the opposite side to which you have rotated.
- Pull the skin on the collar bone downwards
- Rotate your head to one side and extend your neck, then look up and back further stretching your neck
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Alternate sides
- Repeat 2 times
2. Chest stretch
- Stand with both forearm down a doorframe around shoulder height.
- Keeping your forearm on the wall, take one step forward until you feel a stretch across your chest
- Try this exercises at different angles to target different areas of tightness
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Repeat 2 times
3. Thoracic mobility
- Lie on your back with a foam roller over the middle to upper back
- Place your hands over your shoulders to support your neck
- Exhale an allow your upper back to stretch over the foam roller
- Avoid letting your rib cage flare out
- Continue this movement rhythmically, changing the level at which the foam roller lies if you need to.
4. Chin tucks
- Start in a seated position with your shoulders relaxed.
- Looking straight forward
- Tuck your chin in, as to resemble a double chin
- Hold this position for 5 second and repeat 20 times
5. Diamond press
- Lie on your front with your palms face down on the floor and your elbows bent
- Make a diamond shape with your arms, resting your forehead on the backs of your hands
- Ensuring you keep your gaze at the back of your hands, press your hands and forearms into the floor
- Lift your head and chest up and tuck your chin into your chest with this movement
- You should feel the muscles in your back working to do this movement
- Hold this position before you slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position
It is important to understand that Forward Head Posture develops over a long period of time, so do not be discouraged if you do not see immediate results. Try these exercises out and if you are having any trouble with any of these exercises or would like to progress further speak to our chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist.