Forward head posture is a condition that affects a great number of people today. As with many other health issues faced by modern people, a sedentary lifestyle is to blame.
Ah, computers, the wonders of modern technology that allow us to communicate, travel, pretty much do many things at the click of a button and a good internet connection. They are fantastic pieces of equipment but they do come with their problems, especially if you work with one five days a week, own a Smartphone or a tablet, and have a smart TV as all these devices encourage us to slouch and not sit properly when we use them. Wrong sitting positions lead to forward head posture among other health problems.
Forward head posture comes as a result of these types of activities as well as other activities such as reading, writing, and even washing the dishes…a valid reason to get a dishwasher! This posture is characterised by the head leaning too far forward giving the appearance of a chicken, it’s often referred to as ‘chicken head’.
The head is no longer aligned with the shoulders and when you hold this position you are adding an extra 10 pounds of force to the neck!
What are the health risks associated with ‘chicken head’ besides looking a little odd?
- Chronic muscle tension headaches
- Increased blood pressure
- Muscle strain in the jaw, neck, shoulders, and back
- Arthritis can form in the neck, hip, and cervical spine
- Pinched nerves leading to blood stagnation and a toxic build up
- Loss of lung capacity
Muscle tension headaches
A leading posture specialist, a Canadian by the name of Rob Williams, claims that having tight levator scapulae muscles (the ones which connect your neck to the shoulder blades) can contribute to tension headaches.
The extra pressure on your nerves can lead to headaches which originate from the base of the skull, this pressure can also imitate a sinus headache, which if you have experienced, is most unpleasant.
30% Loss of lung capacity
When your forward head posture is out of line, it can pull your spine out of alignment also. This can lead to a 30% loss of your lungs capacity, the amount of air that you expel after a big deep breath. This is serious if you any sort of athlete, or suffering from any sort of breathing ailment.
General neck pain
This pain can range from mild, moderate or marked, which can be as a result of a misaligned forward head posture. A study was undertaken and published in the Journal of Occupational rehabilitation which stated that those who used a computer and reported they had neck pain, 60.5% of them had a forward head posture.
Postural exercises and stretching can significantly reduce neck pain and can help restore structural positions.
There are a number of different exercises you can easily perform to correct your forward head position.
What you will need:
- A firm cushion
- A towel
- An ottoman or low chair
Overhead thumb press
- Lying on the floor, place your legs on an ottoman or on a chair if you don’t have an ottoman. A firm cushion should be placed between your knees and put a folded towel under your head so you aren’t lying directly on the floor.
- Interlace your hands and fingers together, thumbs are pointing towards the face and lift the arms over and above your chest.
- Take the arms above your head and lower to the floor so the thumbs are touching the floor. Keep the thumbs on the floor for two breaths and release back to original position.
- Repeat this exercise ten times, for three sets.
Scapular Wall Press
- This time standing, against a wall so your head, shoulders, back, bum and calves are all touching the wall. Take the arms out to the side with palms facing forwards.
- Take a breath, on the exhale, push your whole body against the wall. Your lower back, bum, arms and back should be pushed back against the wall and hold this for five deep breaths. Using Yogi breath, breathe into the belly as you push.
- Walk away from the wall, holding this pushing back sensation. Repeat this exercise three additional times.
Thoracic spine stretch with a hip extension
- Begin with the right leg behind you, with your left and right feet facing forward. Tighten the right bum cheek and roll shoulders back, chest out and high.
- Interlace the fingers and hands, lift the arms up and over your head the palms facing the sky. Hold this position for six deep breaths.
- Change the legs, so left is behind you, with the left cheek tight and both feet facing forward. Arms overhead, and hold for six breaths. Repeat this on each side three times.
Do take care when performing any of these exercises, you must never force your muscles and body into doing things that aren’t comfortable, particularly as these are all restorative exercises.
If you do push yourself too hard you can risk tearing connective tissue which will make the muscles tighten and you more uncomfortable.
By Holly W.