Correcting Posture: Forward Head

As I sat in a cafe enjoying my salad with chicken, I noticed the heads of five out of every six people were dramatically forward and that most of these appeared to be in some form of pain. I noticed that I have been seeing this pattern much more in people and thought that our technology was at least partly to blame. Whatever the cause, this postural defect can cause headaches, back pain, neck pain and injury to the spine if not controlled. It’s a wonder to me that people don’t control this because the therapy is relatively simple.

How do I know if my head is too far forward?

Get a friend to look at you from the side while you stand with your normal posture (NO CHEATING!). If properly aligned, your ears, shoulder, middle of the spine, hips and the little bone of the side of your foot should all line up.

AAH! I’m a Hunchback! What do I do?!

First, Find out why by asking yourself these questions.

  • Do I work at a computer often?
  • Do I text often?
  • Do I read often?
  • What position do I sleep in?
  • Do I keep my head back when I drive?
  • How are my hips positioned when I stand?
  • Do I lift weights?
  • Do I stretch?

Second, change your habits. If you…

  • Work at a computer – make sure your monitor is at eye level, keyboard and mouse should be reachable with your arms by your side
  • text often – hold the phone up rather than looking down
  • read often – see above texting advice
  • Sleep on your back – Don’t use pillows
  • Sleep on your side – Do use pillows, but only one and try to sleep in a non-fetal position
  • keep your head off of the head rest when you drive – make sure it stays in contact with the head rest
  • push your hips forward when you stand still – tighten your abs a little more so that your hips stay directly under your shoulders. forward hips causes a backward spine which causes a forward head!
  • don’t lift weights – START! your skeleton is completely controlled by your muscles and connective tissue. Tightening your upper back causes your shoulder blades to pull together which gives better posture. Lift three days a week with sets of eight to twelve repetitions. An ideal program for correcting posture may be three sets of eight to twelve reps of chest presses, rows, reverse flies, deltoid raises and straight arm lat pull-downs. Include a move to strengthen your deep cervical flexors.
  • don’t stretch – START! If one side of your body gets weak and lengthens, the other side gets tight. If your back gets weak and relaxes, your chest will get tight and roll forward. stretch your chest and front of your neck once a day.

I Get Headaches and Constant Neckaches…what do I do?

As you loosen up your neck, the headaches and neckaches will go away but remember, your body is a living organism, you have to continue your healthy habits forever.

  • Short-Term Solution – Apply muscle rub to your neck and lower head for temporary relief. The best stuff I have found is Walgreens brand muscle rub.
  • Long-Term Solution – Change your habits as listed above and find trigger points in the back of your skull and neck that radiate in to your head. I have been successful with relieving most headaches in about 2 minutes. My favorite book is the “Trigger Point Therapy Workbook”.
  • Supplements – Magnesium deficiencies and dehydration can cause muscle and connective tissue to spasm. consider taking magnesium at night (it can make you drowsy) and upping your water intake to 1/2 oz per pound of body weight. Some homeopaths recommend 500 to 1000 mg of magnesium just before bed.

Do you have a forward tilt to your head? If so, what do you think caused it?

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