As more and more individuals become more engaged with a sedentary lifestyle, several posture-related problems become alarming. Office workers or individuals who spend time working at home may require them to stare at a computer screen, leading them to experience health issues such as forward head posture.
Forward head posture is one of the typical work-related issues in the world. Some people may not already be aware of this condition, but may already have it. Working for long hours, as well as promoting improper posture. In some cases, forward head posture is a sign of a more severe condition.
What is Forward Head Posture?
Forward head posture (FHP) is described as a poor habitual neck posture characterized by hyperextension of the forward translation of the cervical vertebrae and the upper cervical vertebrae. It occurs when an individual's head positions too far forward. Your body is engineered to have your neck, back, and head in proper alignment with one another. Normally, your ears, neck, and head should all be lined up with the gravity line, which significantly refers to the body's optimal stance.
What commonly causes forward head posture?
If you're wondering what commonly causes forward head posture, then the following might help.
- Long hours of driving
- Carrying or lifting a heavy load
- Too much time using cellphones and other gadgets
- Weak muscles on the neck
- Improper breathing
- Staring on computers for an extended period
- Poor posture when sleeping
- Practicing activities that favour one side of your body such as in sports
- Repetitive movements due to professions, such as painters, writers, computer programmers, and hairstylists.
Effects of a Forward Head Posture
When not given proper medical attention, forward head posture can result in muscle imbalances. This is because the body tries to find a way to keep the head up for a better vision. However, some muscles weaken and become elongated and weakened. Not only that, but other muscles also become tighter and shorter.
Other side effects of forward head posture include shoulder pain, upper back pain, and neck pain. When an extra burden on the lower back is placed due to the rounding of the shoulders, it increases the risk of acquiring herniated discs. The condition also caused pain and tension headaches. Worse, there can be a change of balance that makes you more prone to falling and other injuries.
Some short-term and long-term side effects that forward head posture may bring are the following:
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty in breathing
- Sleep apnea
- Rounded shoulders, also known as kyphosis
- Cervical spine arthritis
- Temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ
- Tingling and numbness of hands and arms
- Lowered shoulder mobility
- Bulging discs
A study entitled "Effect of Forward Head Posture on Thoracic Shape and Respiratory Function" revealed a significant change in the shape of the thorax. The study highlighted:
"A critical finding in the present study was that the shape of the thorax was significantly changed by FHP. FHP induced expansion of the upper thorax and contraction of the lower thorax. In addition, the characteristic thoracic shape in FHP was maintained during respiration. Therefore, decrements to respiratory function can be explained by the restriction of thoracic motion during respiration caused by this characteristic thoracic shape resulting from FHP."
Also mentioned in the study is that forward head posture is also due to the rising popularity of gadgets and devices, such as computers and smartphones.
What are Some Ergonomic Devices that will Help Correct Your Forward Head Posture?
There are ways on how to fix forward head posture. According to Spine-Health.com, there are three ways that you can try:
- Doing chin tucks and chest stretches in the morning
- Sleeping on a cervical pillow
- Setting up your workspace ergonomically
For more detailed instructions for each one, kindly refer here.
Besides, a post published by VeryWellHealth.com stated that setting up an ergonomic workplace may not be enough. A part of the article mentioned:
"Any ergonomic changes you can make to your workspace, environment, or lifestyle habits that make sitting or standing upright more comfortable will help reduce the risk of forward head posture. However, this may not be enough. A 2017 study comparing targeted exercise to workstation modification for reducing office-related neck, shoulder, and back pain found exercise was the more effective approach. What's more, the subjects in the study who exercised began to feel better in just four months."
To find out more about the exercises that you can try, you can head up here.
If you think you have a forward head posture, then utilizing ergonomic devices will greatly help. The following are some of the equipment and tools that you can consider:
#1 Standing Desks
One major cause of forward head posture is having a poor posture when sitting or standing. Plus, it can also happen when a person is involved with a sedentary lifestyle. To alleviate its risks, you can use standing desks to prevent a sedentary lifestyle's adverse effects. Using these ergonomic desks at work or home can definitely be a significant aid in avoiding forward head posture.
#2 Ergonomic Chair
Another cause of neck pain is improper desk use when working, studying, or doing some activities at home. This can result in lower back pain, fatigue, and forward head posture. With the features of an ergonomic desk, such as adjustable height and angle, back frame, reclining mechanism, lumbar support, and comfortable seat will definitely be a great answer on how to fix posture-related problems. AnthroDesk's high-back ergonomic chair provides adjustable elements that allow you to move the user's head, back, and arms comfortably. It also has a mesh backrest that lets the person stay cool, despite long hours of sitting.
#3 Monitor Mounts
An improperly set up computer monitor can cause eye strain, headaches, and forward head posture. To solve such issues, using an adjustable monitor mount can undoubtedly help. Monitor mounts enable a proper and complete ergonomic viewing options for better screen positioning and prevent pain as well as soreness in the neck, back, and shoulders.
#4 Desk Converters
Desk converters are also ergonomic devices that promote better posture to prevent neck pain and back pain. Adding desk converters to your workplace will ensure that your computer monitors will be positioned properly. It can also be a practical choice since you may not need to buy a new desk. It can easily be attached to your existing desk or table and have your monitors placed on it.
We all want to work conveniently and productively. We do not want to suffer from issues related to poor posture and an inactive lifestyle. Forward head posture is one of the problems that some of us may be at risk for. That is why it is only just and proper to be aware of its causes and possible effects. Of course, we should also be informed on how to fix this and use some ergonomic devices to prevent its possible adverse effects.