How to correct forward head posture
Do you want better posture?
Are you concerned with your posture and your health? Are you experiencing feelings of pain and discomfort? Many people live with poor posture, including forward head posture, and the health challenges that come with it. If you experience headaches, neck tension, have trouble concentrating or generally feel that your posture is off, we may be able to help. Your team at The Back Clinic have written this posture article to provide advice so you can make an informed decision about your health.
What is forward head posture?
Forward head posture is the anterior (forward) positioning of the cervical (neck) spine. This posture is also known as ‘text next, ‘scholar's neck’ or ‘reading neck’, as the posture is often associated with these activities. It is commonly considered a degenerative posture, contributing to musculoskeletal health concerns and pain that may worsen over time without correction.
The importance of posture to your health
Do you know that your posture may determine your level of health? One study1 looked into the association between hyperkyphotic posture (forward-curved posture of the upper back or thoracic spine) and rate of mortality in older persons. The study concluded “older men and women with hyperkyphotic posture have higher mortality rates.”
Indeed, chiropractors have a good understanding of the connection between your posture – including forward head posture - and overall health levels.
The power of position
Chiropractors have known for a long time that a natural posture, including the position of your head, is important for maintaining optimal health and function. A natural and neutral head posture can be characterised by the following:
- A neck position that allows your head to sit directly above your shoulders.
- You should be able to draw an imaginary vertical line from the middle of your shoulders up to your ears.
- Imagine your neck curve as a backwards C – this is the strongest position possible.
The problem with forward head posture
Unfortunately for many, the effects of gravity, poor posture habits, prolonged periods of sitting, poor office ergonomics (computer screens that are too low), injury and trauma may contribute to the loss of the neutral and natural neck curve, leading to a forward shift of the head carriage.
Signs and symptoms of forward head posture may include:
- An obvious shift of your head in front of your centre of gravity
- Ears not inline, and in front of, your shoulders
- Neck pain and upper back tension
- Headaches and migraines
- Feelings of irritability, discomfort and perhaps lack of concentration
- Pain when you look down, such as when using a smart phone, tablet, or working on a laptop
- Jaw ‘clicking’ or episodes of pain
What does the research say?
One study2 looked at “The Effect of The Forward Head Posture on Postural Balance in Long Time Computer Based Worker” and concluded “the results of this study suggest that forward head postures during computer-based work may contribute to some disturbance in the balance of healthy adults.”
Exercises to correct forward head posture
- Traction stations
- Orthotic devices, as recommended by your chiropractor
- Specific stretches, such as ‘neck extensor and pectoralis major stretches and deep neck flexor and shoulder retractor strengthening exercises’3
Can a chiropractor help forward head posture?
In some cases, yes. A combination of exercises and manual therapy, including chiropractic,
"Here at The Back Clinic, I help patients discover the benefits that chiropractic and improved posture may offer them. After years of study and countless patient examinations, I am confident in asserting that an upright and natural posture (and body) helps patients not only look better, but move, bend and stretch better. Posture improvements can really give you a new outlook on life." - Dr. Omar Ayouby (Chiropractor)
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- Kado DM, Huang MH, Karlamangla AS, Barrett-Connor E, Greendale GA ‘Hyperkyphotic Posture Predicts Mortality in Older Community-dwelling Men and Women: A Prospective Study’ J Am Geriatr Soc 2004 (Oct); 52 (10): 1662—1667.
- Kang J-H, Park R-Y, Lee S-J, Kim J-Y, Yoon S-R, Jung K-I. The Effect of The Forward Head Posture on Postural Balance in Long Time Computer Based Worker. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine. 2012;36(1):98-104. doi:10.5535/arm.2012.36.1.98.
- Katherine Harman, Cheryl L. Hubley-Kozey, and Heather Butler ‘Effectiveness of an Exercise Program to Improve Forward Head Posture in Normal Adults: A Randomized, Controlled 10-Week Trial’ Journal Of Manual & Manipulative Therapy Vol. 13 , Iss. 3,2005.