One of the most common posture problems today is Forward Head Position/Posture (FHP), and it is much more complicated than simple “bad posture.” For every inch (2.54cm) that the head moves forward from its natural position, the upper muscles of your back and neck have to support TEN more pounds (4.5 kg) of weight. As a result forward head posture is one of the leading causes of neck and shoulder tension, pain, and headaches. Seeking chiropractic care is one of the best and most effective ways of dealing with this all-too-common problem.
Causes of Forward Head Posture
FHP typically develops over the years as a result of an injury to the neck, such as a sprain or strain of the cervical or upper thoracic spine. These injuries, along with bad habits, such as poor sleeping or sitting positions or overuse of a mobile device doing things like texting or playing video games where the head is flexed at an acute angle for extended periods of time. Other causes, such as heavy backpacks, sleeping wrong on a couch, or reading at night with too many pillows all can lead to the epidemic of forward head posture. The repetition of multiple forward head movement combined with poor postures or situations and/or trauma causes the body to adapt a damaging forward head posture.
Forward head posture occurs when the head shifts forward from your body‘s center of gravity. To compensate the upper shoulders and thoracic spine move backward, causing the hips to tilt forward. This causes a domino effect with your posture which leaves your spine out of alignment and commonly results in neck pain and a number of other problems.
FHP is not only aesthetically unattractive, but it can damage your health. Long-term stress on your cervical spine can lead to muscle strain, disc herniation, and osteoarthritis of the spine as well as affecting your overall well-being. Rene Cailliet, the former Director of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and 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 that shows forward head posture reducing a person‘s lung capacity by 30%. The gastrointestinal system is also affected by the upper cervical tension, especially the large intestine. Also, when a forward position of the cervical spine is present, the body becomes stiff and rigid, and the entire range of motion is affected. When range of motion is affected, endorphin production decreases so overall pain and discomfort increases affecting the health and mood of the patient.
Treatment for Forward Head Posture
If you are suffering from forward head posture, you should be examined by a chiropractor who can evaluate your spine to check for any misalignment 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. Doing a quick ergonomic check to make sure that you are sitting straight, not hunching over a computer or in your car seat, can make you more aware of posture problems and prevent them. If you are actually conscious of the problem, it is easier to identify problems that are contributing to it. One quick tip is to sit up very straight and set your car mirrors, then as the day goes on, if you check your rear-view mirror while driving and can‘t see anything, adjust yourself – not the mirror!
At Denver South Chiropractic & Rehab, we are making a huge effort in the Denver Metro area to educate the public about the damaging effects of forward head posture and what people can do about it. We have launched our Save Our Spines Initiative in the schools where we see children with more forward head posture than ever before. We are not only checking the posture of children in schools to help detect any future problems, but we are also demonstrating how to wear their backpack properly. Since many backpacks are improperly designed and the child wearing it does not properly balance the weight in it, the child has to move their head forward to compensate for the weight in the bag. If have any questions about your child‘s backpack or possible posture problem, please call the clinic to set up a consultation.
If you are experiencing hip, back, or neck pain or any of the other symptoms of FHP, we can help. Please contact Denver South Chiropractic today to schedule your first appointment or to learn more about our posture correction services.
Your Denver chiropractor is located near I-25 & S. Bellaire St. We work with most health insurances and all auto accident claims. We are open Tuesday thru Saturday.