Considering the head gains 10 pounds in weight for every inch of forward head posture, it is hardly surprising that your neck and shoulders ache considering you are carrying a watermelon around on top of your shoulders, now is it?
When the head moves forward (forward head posture) our center of gravity moves forward causing an increase in the muscle effort in the back of the neck and upper back.
But is your forward head posture capable of making you sick? What are the health implications of this type of posture?
Rene Cailliet, an American born physician of French ancestry, was one of the pioneers in physical rehabilitation and is well known for his books on musculoskeletal medicine.
You can realign your entire body by moving your head … your head held in a forward position can pull your entire body out of line. Rene Cailliet
He goes on to explain that the vital lung capacity is reduced as much as 30% with forward head posture.
Forward head posture also causes compression in the upper neck joints (which causes pain and irritation). In order to prevent your forward head from falling toward your chest, your muscles sustain continual contraction, which causes nerve entrapment and artery compression. It isn’t hard to see that there exists the potential for neurological and vascular complications as a result of forward head posture.
What causes forward head?
There are many causes of forward head posture and they all require a different treatment approach for best results.
- Shyness & lost confidence
- Trauma (causing changes to your ideal neck curve)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Hyper-kyphosis from Osteoporosis and other spinal conditions
- Poor posture habits (long-term slouching)
When to x-ray?
By the time forward head posture becomes a confidence issue, it may already be significant. Forward head posture can be improved with a simple chin tuck but, and this is an extremely important but, the type of exercise that is appropriate, should be determined from the cause.
The only reliable means for determining the cause of your forward head posture, is an x-ray. Your practitioner can not, under any circumstance guess the cause of forward head posture with only a physical examination. Because the type of exercises and rehabilitation will differ, depending on the underlying cause of your forward head posture, it is essential to have an x-ray before treatment and/or rehab begins. This, unfortunately is not the typical approach I see in health-care today.
If you’ve already had treatment or exercises for your forward head posture and see no change in your appearance and still have pain, you may need a structural diagnosis and this you obtain through x-ray analysis.
If you think you have forward head posture, I’d love your comments on this – drop them in the comments box below.