Let’s talk about forward head posture and what it means. Forward head posture is when your head is forward, out in front of the shoulders. I want you to pay attention to this because your kids’ health depends on it along with yours. Your kids and our kids are the future of our health and future of our country so we want to make sure we take care of them, right now.
It’s hard to be happy with forward head posture. The research is showing that good posture in the face of stress, maintains self esteem. It improves mood and it increases the rate of speech and reduces self focus. This is out of the Health Psychology, the official journal of the division of Health and Psychology, American Psychology and Associations.
So, why is that important for kids these days? Because kids have it harder than they ever did. Kids have to deal with social struggles, school and the struggles of dealing with the many stressors in our world today. So, by taking care of our kids, improving their very basic posture and decreasing their forward head posture, we can help to improve their mood. Research also shows that forward head posture increases the rate of depression. Therefore, by decreasing their forward head posture, improving their overall posture, we can help decrease depression in kids as well as adults. Seems like forward head posture is worth paying attention to!
Poor posture has also been linked to asthma and heart disease. What they’re showing is that, when the head goes forward it may actually decrease lung capacity by up to 30% and therefore increases the risk of asthma. This was shown in a study out of the University of California in their Physical Rehabilitation Department. What their study found was that for every centimeter the head goes forward in front of the shoulders, it adds an extra pound of stress on the muscles across the back and the shoulders. These muscles affect the nerves that run down into the heart and into the lungs, which is why we’re seeing that link between forward head posture and an increase in heart disease, asthma, and other breathing difficulties.
Forward head postures has also been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome due to the fact that the nerves flow through the neck, down the brachial plexus, and down into the hands. As the head goes forward, it stretches compresses the nerves allowing the carpal tunnel to be affected in the hands.
A poor posture can also lead to disc compression. As we lose the curve in our neck by leaning our head forward the weight comes off the back of the bones and begins resting on the disc spaces. This compressive force accelerates the compression effects on the disc and the arthritic changes on the bone. If you want to help prevent osteoarthritis it is suggested that you have your spine evaluated by a qualified person that understands the mechanics to get that weight back onto the back of the bones again so the discs are no longer being compressed.
What other effects can forward head posture have on the body. If we look at the head we have the mouth, the nose, the eyes. As the head goes forward, these muscles in the back of the neck that are holding on to the head at the top of the shoulders becomes stressed. They pull the muscles in the jaw and that will cause abnormal function within that TMJ joint. That’s why forward head posture can affect how you feel and how you eat.
Luckily, there are some exercises to work on reversing forward head posture. In one exercise you put your hands behind your head and you push your head back into your hands. This strengthens the muscles in the back of the neck onto the shoulders. It will help to pull the head back into normal position. Stretching in all ranges of motion are also going to help to loosen those areas in the muscles that are tight. Go all the way back and all the way down. You’re going to want to hold it for about five to eight seconds. Also go all the way down to the side, left and right, as well as, turning to the right and left shoulders. Use some caution when performing these movements. Do not move your head quickly or forcefully because that sharp and impactful force can cause ligamentous tears and that is something we want to avoid from happening.
While there are exercises you can do to help bad posture it is best to avoid having this from happening. Please pay attention parents because our kids are doing this every single day. We are talking about computer use. How many hours do you spend on a computer? How many hours are you looking at that computer monitor that is sitting down in front of you and your head is going forward and forward and forward and the shoulders roll forward causing more stress and more weight to be carried out in front of your body versus over the top of your shoulders. When we are at the computer is one of the most important times to pay close attention our posture and the posture of our children.
Now how about watching TV? Where do you watch TV? Do you watch it in bed and put a bunch of pillows behind your head? Do you watch it on the couch and have couch cushions that push your head forward? Try to make sure that you’re up straight trying to keep a good posture as much as possible. Another important time to keep an eye out for is when our kids are playing video games. Not to often do kids sit in a chair playing a video game with very good posture. They get into the game and they start moving around and they slide in their chairs and before long they are sitting back. How about using tablets? This is another time to pay attention to our kids posture. Kids, and ourselves, can spend hours leaning over a tablet. This will have an affect on the cervical spine.
Another big concern with our kids is their backpacks. Naturally, the body wants to adapt to the weight that you put on the back. If you put too much weight on the back and it pulls the body backwards then they are going to want to put their head forward in order to support that weight. By reducing the weight you can help your child and their spinal function. A second thing you can do is take the heavy books and make sure you get them against the back or as close to the body as possible and keep the light stuff on the outside.
The last one to think about is traumas. The number one trauma is the birth process. According to Doctor Gutmann, 80% of the children that are born today have damage at birth which can contribute to this forward head posture. Chiropractors check this all the time in people and in children. They help to correct all of the challenges that happen from the things that we do in life that cause this forward head posture to continue. Other traumas to consider would be auto accidents and slips or falls. How many times did you fall as you were learning how to walk? We have trauma every day and it’s the cumulative traumas over time that cause the imbalance in the muscles.
So if you want to be happy, correct your forward head posture. It gives you more confidence as well as helping to prevent these pain challenges from happening. Share with somebody that you know could benefit from this and we’ll look forward to seeing you in the office!