Forward Head Posture's Damaging Effects on Posture and Back Pain
The constant use of computers, televisions, and smart phones is having damaging effects on your posture and health.
Forward head posture, or FHP, is becoming a prevalent condition amongst our population, primarily the world’s youth. Its damaging effects are linked to a variety of ailments, including: neck and back pain, cervical arthritis, vertebral bone spurs, headaches, and respiratory complications.
So what exactly is Forward Head Posture?
As the name indicates, forward head posture is an excessive anterior (or forward) positioning of the head, neck, and cervical spine. It can start off subtly, as only a slight forward positioning of the head and neck, but has the potential to ultimately end in a permanent hunchback posture and a never ending struggle for neck and back pain relief.
Sleeping with your head elevated too high, poor posture habits, heavy backpacks, and weak upper back and neck muscles are all contributing factors to FHP. The biggest offender to the aggressive onset of FHP, however, is the constant use of technology (i.e. ‘screens’). Computers, televisions, and/or smart phones are at the center of nearly every person’s life. The posture that is adopted by looking down at your phone and looking too far forward at a computer or television combined with holding that position for long periods of time creates the perfect environment for FHP to begin. And once the cycle starts it can be a pain in the neck to correct. Literally!
How can I check myself or others to determine if I/they have forward head posture?
FHP can be identified with a simple and easy test that takes only a few seconds to perform – but you’ll need a buddy to help! Have a friend stand so that they are facing your side profile. Then, while they watch, look up at the ceiling, down at the floor, then straight ahead. Your friend should find the center of your shoulder and visualize an imaginary, vertical line from your should to your head. Ideally, that line should cross right through the middle of your ear. If it does not, forward head posture could be the culprit and a Chiropractic appointment should be made.
Is there something I can do to correct and/or prevent forward head posture?
The following are effective and practical steps to take to both correct and prevent the onset of FHP and to ensure neck and back pain relief:
• Avoid propping your head up on multiple pillows while you sleep
• Wear backpacks on both shoulders and keep the load as light as possible
• Utilize a back support when sitting (this includes sitting at a desk and while driving)
• Practice postural awareness, especially when using the aforementioned ‘screens’
• Visit a Chiropractor for any necessary spinal manipulations, additionally they can show you proper posture positions, muscle strengthening exercises, and pain-relieving stretches