According to the Arthritis Disease Center, 50 to 80 percent of Americans complain of back pain during their lifetime, and poor posture is a common contributor to this discomfort. When the subject of poor posture is mentioned, many imagine a Quasimodo-like individual with hunched shoulders and an arched back. But, there’s more to it. While the back is a key component in factoring in good posture, it’s important to include the neck in the equation.
When someone practices poor neck posture, they are caught in the habit of putting their head in a forward position. Forward Head Posture (FHP) is one of the leading causes of tension in the shoulders, head and neck.
What is Forward Head Posture?
Forward head posture (FHP) is a postural abnormality in which the neck protrudes forward in front of the shoulders. FHP can also be referred to as text neck, scholar’s neck, reading neck, chicken head posture, and poked neck. When the head moves forward, the center of gravity is shifted which results in a sequence of negative repercussions. Because of the awkward change in the center of gravity, the upper body will consequently drift backward. To counteract the shift in the upper body, the hips will subsequently slant forward. Now the entire bodily frame is affected, causing stress and pain in numerous areas.
How can FHP negatively affect me?
According to Kapandji, Physiology of the Joints, Volume III, for every inch your heads moves forward, it gains 10 pounds in weight. This impacts the upper back and neck muscles because now they labor harder to support the head.
Prolonged poor neck posture could also result in:
- Strained muscles
- Numbness in the arms and hands
- Disc herniation
- Pinched nerves
- Strained neck
- Degenerative joint disease
- Low back pain
What causes FHP?
This condition can be the result of several factors including sleeping with the head elevated too high, weakened neck muscles due to an injury, and a deficiency of nutrients such as calcium. One of the major causes of FHP, propelling this condition to epidemic proportions, is the growing use of technology in the form of cell phones, laptops, tablets and personal computers. In fact, a study, published in 2012, indicates those who heavily work at their computers tend to succumb to forward head posture.
It’s vital to develop healthy habits concerning your posture. Here’s a good posture checklist:
- chin parallel to the floor and ear right above your shoulder
- neutral shoulders (watch for shoulder rounding!)
- neutral spine, especially no over-arching your low back or jutting your head forward
- abdominal muscles engaged
- hips should be even and squared
- body weight distributed evenly on both feet.
Consistency is key. It’s so simple to slip back into old practices concerning posture. Be diligent! If these tips do not improve your posture or discomfort level, then it’s recommended to visit a chiropractor.