In the age of computers, smartphones, and tablets, we seem to be having an epidemic of forward head posture. Ideally, the cervical spine (neck), should have a slight curve to it, allowing the ear to be directly over the shoulder. Unfortunately, many activities lend themselves to a slouched posture with the head jutting out in front, such as working at a computer, driving, or sitting on the couch watching TV.
Why is this important? When the head is held in front of the body instead of directy over the shoulders, physics dictates that it will effectively seem “heavier” due to increased leverage. It is like trying to hold a bowling ball out in front of you all day- your arm would tire very quickly! When you have forward head posture, the muscles of the neck and shoulders have to work overtime just to keep your head up.
This often leads to trigger points (knots) in the muscles and restriction in the vertebral joints, which then cause neck pain and headaches. This slouched posture also puts the shoulders in a less-than-ideal position and can lead to shoulder tendinitis and thoracic outlet syndrome (numbness and tingling in the arms/hands). In addition, a forward head posture can make it difficult to take a deep breath.
6 Dangers of Forward Head Posture
- Leads to improper spinal function.
- Can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.
- Results in loss of vital lung capacity. In fact, lung capacity is depleted by as much as 30 percent. Loss of lung capacity leads to heart and blood vascular problems.
- Affects the entire gastrointestinal system, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel peristaltic function and evacuation is a common condition that comes with forward head posture and loss of spinal lordotic curves.
- Causes an increase in discomfort and pain. Freedom of motion in the first four cervical vertebrae is a major source of stimuli that causes production of endorphins in production many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain.
- Causes loss of healthy spine-body motion. The entire body becomes rigid as the range of motion lessens.
Positioning computer screens too low, coupled with the repetitive motion of moving the head forward to read the screen is a primary factor in FHP.
The first step in correction is to be examined and x-rayed by a chiropractor to identify the exact measurements of the FHP. Once that is established, a specific corrective care program for FHP is given, including adjustments and specific exercises. The chiropractor will point out poor ergonomics and situations that pre-dispose you to FHP and give you practical solutions.