iNeck, Reading Neck, Poor Posture. Why do we suffer from the modern condition?
Head Forward Posture
What is Head Forward Posture?
The term ‘Head Forward Posture’ refers to a poor habitual neck posture. This occurs when the neck shifts forward, placing the head further in front of the shoulders rather than directly above. Rather than the weight of the head being balanced over the bones of your spine, increased load is instead placed on muscles and other supporting structures. Symptoms of this posture begin to arise as the body attempts to adapt and maintain our forward vision.
What causes ‘Head Forward Posture’?
Forward head posture can have a variety of causes but normally develops from poor posture being maintained for long periods. This is most common in an occupational setting, where you are seated in front of a computer in the same position, for extended periods. With the rise in working from home and poorly setup workspaces this condition has become increasingly more common.
Increased usage of mobile phones for texting, social media etc. also contributes.
For every 2cm the head moves forward the weight of your head increases 4.5 kg placing increasing strain through neck.
Because of the head leaning forward, the muscles of the neck and upper body become imbalanced. Some muscles become tight and stressed, while others become very weak. As the head drifts further forward, our centre of gravity changes, so the mid-back compensates by drifting backwards. To compensate for the mid-back shift, the hips can tilt forwards. What we end up with are curves in our spine that are neither useful nor efficient and can lead to pain. The most common symptoms of forward head posture are:
- Neck discomfort
- Muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
- Discomfort in the mid back
- Chest pain
- Pain, pins & needles and numbness in the arms and hands
Rehabilitation and Prevention
There are a number of ways to help prevent and manage forward head posture. A good set up at home and/or work can be extremely beneficial in preventing forward head posture from occurring, see the link for helpful tips – Best Desk Posture for a Pain-Free Back.
Taking regular breaks from your computer and completing some range of motion exercises and stretching is also extremely important.
Simple Stretches to Relive Neck Pain
2 x 10 Reps
Aiming for a Double Chin
Upper Tarpezius and Levator Scapulae Stretch
Make sure the opposite should is relaxed
Hold each stretch for 30 secs
Repeat several times per day
Hold for at least 30 seconds.
2 Sets of 10
Hold for 5 seconds
Aiming to squeeze shoulder blades together
If forward head posture is starting to give you pain and discomfort don’t hesitate to have a chat to one of physiotherapists who can develop a treatment plan specific to you and your needs.