FORWARD HEAD POSTURE – WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT FROM?
The most common postural distortion we experience today is Forward Head Posture (FHP). Lifestyle factors are one of the largest causes of FHP. We are living in a forward-facing world ~ the repetitive use of computers, TV, video games, ‘smart’ phones and even backpacks contribute to this unhealthy posture. FHP often starts in childhood and can typically begin after some type of trauma. It is exacerbated through adulthood from poor ergonomics, repetitive computer use and looking down at mobile phones.
Initial causes include:
Motor vehicle accidents
Falls from bicycles, skateboards, rollerblades, and high places
The traumas may be considered minor at the time, but can cause spinal misalignments that heal improperly, setting the stage for a progressive forward head posture and poor postural health. Chiropractic adjustments may help and correct these spinal misalignments.
Rene Cailliet, the former Director of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Director at U.S.C., has done extensive research into the area of posture and he states that “your body follows the head…your head held in a forward position can pull your entire body out of line.” Cailliet has research showing FHP can reduce a person’s lung capacity by 30%; the gastrointestinal system is affected by the upper cervical tension, especially the large intestine.
Also with FHP, the body can become rigid and stiff, and the entire ranges of motion are affected. This can also lead to decrease in endorphin production which then increases overall pain and discomfort affecting the health and mood of the person.
THE SPECIFICS OF FHP
Imagine carrying a bowling ball around your head. That is the average weight of an adult head. Ideally, your head should sit directly over your shoulders. And although we take it for granted, we are constantly challenged to hold it up because of the effects of gravity. Think of how your head drops when you are falling asleep sitting up in a chair.
With FHP, for every inch your head is forward over your shoulders, it increases the physical stress at the base of your neck and across your shoulders by 10 times. So, if your head weighs 10 pounds, and your head is 3 inches forward, that’s 30 pounds of stress in your upper back! The neck and shoulders have to carry this weight all day, and it is made worse by working on computers, reading for prolonged periods, playing video games, etc. The neck and upper back muscles are in a constant state of contraction. This can result in muscle strain, aching neck pain, headaches, pinched nerves, numbness and tingling in arms and hands, low back pain, TMJ disorders, and multiple other problems. FHP has also been shown to flatten and sometimes reverse the normal neck curve, causing spinal disc compression, which may result in spinal degeneration and other spinal damage.
If you are suffering from FHP, you should be examined by a chiropractor who can evaluate your spine to check for any misalignments which may be causing the improper posture. Other simple things that you can do to help improve are correcting the ergonomics at work, home, school or in the car ~ checking to make sure that you are sitting straight, not hunching over a computer or slouching in your car seat. When you are actually aware of the problem, it is easier to identify things that are contributing to it.