Understanding “Forward Head Posture”

Understanding Forward Head Posture and how this creates the potential for injury and chronic musculoskeletal problems is extremely important. As you can see above, for every 1 inch the head moves forward, it increased the force on the head and spine by 10 pounds. Not only does it increase the loading on the spine, which over times causing excessively degeneration and wearing of discs and joints in the spine, it also causes certain muscles and ligaments to become what we call “facilitated”, meaning they must contract much harder to maintain that forward head posture. Think about holding 12-15lbs (the weight of a bowling ball and the weight of your head), out a way of your body? It would be hard to hold there correct? Well, that is the weight and stress we are placing on our spine and weight bearing joints such as our hips and knees.

This produces very predictable problems in our spine and weight bearing joints.

  • Lower cervical (neck) problems such as disc bulges, herniations, and arthritis
  • Internal rotation of the shoulder which causes rotator cuff injury, tight pecs and shoulder pain
  • Lower lumbar disc loading and degeneration increasing the likelihood of lumbar disc herniations
  • Thoracic kyphosis which causes that ugly hump in our upper and middle back
  • Knee and hip problems because our weight is not being absorbed properly in these joints

Avoid Forward Head Pressure

We want to help our patients understand the cause and effect relationship of common health problems and this problem is progressive in nature and should be prevented at all costs. We are seeing it increasingly in children because of cell phones, computers and tablets. The human body was not designed to sit for 8-10 hours a day which is what most of us, including our children are doing. When we sit, our posture is “Closed” meaning most of our joints (ankles, knees, hips, lower back, mid back and neck) are flexing. This closed position is the opposite of standing where we are in an open position. Our spine will wind up in the position the we put it in the most. If we “flex” forward too much, this is the alignment we will wind up in. In next week’s article of the week, we will discuss how to fix “Forward Head Posture” so that one day you and  your family don’t have to move into a bell tower because you have a huge hump in your back like Quasimodo.

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