Do You Have Forward Head Posture?

 

If you’re like most people these days…the answer’s YES.

We’re hunching over computers all day, spending more hours on devices after work…and noticing the results in the mirror and in our health.

The hump starting in your upper back (aka a “dowagers hump”), rounded shoulders, extra tension in your face and a saggy jawline are some of the more obvious ways poor posture makes you look older.

Forward head posture is the most common causes of neck pain, shoulder tension and headaches. It causes pinched nerves, tingling fingers, sinus congestion and even vertigo. What’s more, it makes your body wear out faster. 

Even more detrimental are the effects it has on other areas of your health. When you have bad posture, you’re literally crunching your joints, nerves, and organs together so they can’t function properly. The health complications are vast, and often go untreated until there’s permanent damage.

Health conditions associated with forward head posture include:

 

  • Arthritis
  • Pain in the neck, shoulder and upper back
  • Costochondritis and other rib issues- becoming VERY common.
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Stressful mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain/brain fog
  • Decreased lung capacity by 30%
  • Dizziness, vertigo and balance issues
  • Increased anxiety and worry, depressed mood
  • TMJ/Jaw pain 
  • Sinus issues
  • Impaired athletic performance

“Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment. Forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity.

Rene Cailliet M.D., former director of the department of physical medicine  at the University of Southern California.

What exactly is causing “that hump” and how can I fix it?

 

“That hump” is also known as a dowagers hump or a hyper-kyphosis.

Your head is supposed to balance on your neck so your muscles don’t have to work hard to support it. However, in today’s lifestyle most people spend the majority of their time with their head jutted forward in what’s known as ‘anterior head posture”. (Anterior means forward). 

This causes the muscles in the back of your neck to become overstretched and exhausted as they try to support the weight of your head. Imagine what it would feel like if you held a  bowling ball out in front of you. The further it was from your body the heavier it would be, and more strain you would feel.

What if you held it there for hours every day (like we do with our forward head posture)? Ouch.

Your body changes according to the stress you put on it. Anyone who lifts weights knows we can reshape our body by applying specific stresses. 

That’s the same principle that creates the “hump”. Your body lays down extra muscle and fat in your upper back/neck in an effort to create more stability to support the forward posture. It’s hard to believe but that hump is simply your body responding to the stress of poor posture. When you fix your posture and the hump almost always resolves.

Until you fix the forward head posture, you can’t get rid of the hump.

Will the hump go away if I lose weight?

 

Unfortunately no, until the posture is corrected that hump will remain. Even if you had it surgically removed it would return unless you fixed the underlying cause …your posture.

What is good posture?

 

Your spine is designed to “stack” like a game of jenga so that you can use the least amount of effort possible to hold yourself up, keeping you feeling young and energized.

Good posture isn’t one static position, it’s sitting, moving and standing with ease and alignment. It allows your muscles to stay relaxed, your nerves to communicate ideally and your lungs to fill effortlessly.

It’s the way athletes use their bodies for maximum results, and how yogis sit so they can meditate for hours on end. You’ll see it’s principles used over and over again to maximize results. 

Case in point:

Last week I saw an episode of The Voice where Nick Jonas showed a contestant how much better his voice sounds when he corrects his posture!

 

Can a chiropractor fix my forward head posture?

 

Quite possibly yes!

Once a damaging posture has become a habit you’ll need help from one of our chiropractors to unlock and realign the joints. 

As Dr. Shulman and Dr. Neely isolate and adjust the necessary areas you’ll notice an improvement in your posture almost immediately. You’ll stand taller and breathe deeper.

“Is it possible that it feels better already?” Yes.

But, if you return to poor posture habits your issues will likely return. Once the joints are unlocked, simple everyday lifestyle and stretching/strengthening will help maintain this new level of freedom in your spine. 

 

What should you do (or not do) to maintain good posture?

 

Along with chiropractic adjustments the doctors will provide personalized exercises, stretches and ergonomic or lifestyle suggestions. (see the videos below and check out our youtube playlist for more info)

What doesn’t work?

Unfortunately, posture is a very misunderstood “hot topic” and much of the information and quick fixes on google are simply wrong.

Many people try to fix their posture by squeezing the muscles between their shoulder blades or doing chin tucks but neither of these will lead to good posture, and are actually a hindrance to getting there. 

Instead? 

Learn how to sit in your chair properly, simple stretches to realign your shoulder blades , how to breathe better and even 3 simple steps to fix your posture in under 30 seconds!