Forward Head Posture: Causes and Fixes

As you're reading this article, are you looking down? Ask yourself how you are physically positioned as you scroll through your social media feed or attending a conference call. How is your posture? Posture is essentially how your body is positioned while you are standing, sitting, or lying down. Now, if the photo above is an accurate representation of you more often than not, then it is best to get acquainted with the condition, “Forward Head Posture”. 

Forward Head Posture primarily affects the tissues in the cervical spine, more specifically, the facet joints and ligaments. It also alters respiratory functions because of its tendency to debilitate respiratory muscles. With Forward Head Posture, the posterior cervical muscles are stretched and weakened due to its overaction and ultimate shortening of the front flexor muscles. About 66% to 90% of the population suffers from this condition.

What is Forward Head Posture?

Many people are not aware that they are afflicted with the problem until they reexamine the symptoms and realize that their current experience matches a few, or a couple, of items on the list. 

Symptoms of Forward Head Posture:

  • Neck Pain or Neck Discomfort
  • Rounded Shoulders
  • Chest Pain
  • Headache (“Tension Headaches”)
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Temporomandibular Pain (TMJ)
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Numbness in the Arms and Hands
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

In a nutshell, forward head posture is when your neck is slanted forward, making the head an inch or more in front of the first neck vertebra.

Causes of Forward Head Posture:

#1 Sitting Posture 

The main culprit? Slouching. Keeping a poor posture for the entirety of being seated is a massive factor in causing this physical condition. The forward or backward leaning of the head for an extended period while using computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices can incite early disc degeneration. This is why this disorder is also known as Scholar’s Neck. Being in front of a screen or even in front of a steering wheel shifts your head to be more protruded in the front, increasing the load on your neck and shoulders. Even worse, there are more health risks associated with sitting too long.

#2 Sleeping Position

Is there such a thing as having too many pillows? The answer is yes. When you sleep with your head too elevated, it contributes to forward head posture. This is not just applicable for when you are in bed, the same problem occurs when you have your head propped too high against the sofa.

#3 Heavy Backpacks

Even when children go to school, people have been accustomed to carrying heavy backpacks. It gets justified as part of the process of elementary education because studying meant bringing textbooks to and fro. It might not seem obvious but carrying a heavy backpack compels you to lean forward in compensation for the weight of your baggage. This results in tight upper back muscles and weak front-of-neck muscles. 

#4 Some Sports and Professions

There are sports that maximize the use of one side of the body. These include baseball, golf, tennis, ice hockey, and the like. These activities add strain and tension on the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Some other activities that also can aggravate forward head posture are massage therapy, hairstyling, painting, and writing.

Fixes for Forward Head Posture:

Yes, Forward Head Posture can be corrected. A hunched stance can still be improved, though it will take commitment and consistency.

#1 Level your Pillows

It is optimal to have one pillow that fits and supports your neck and head. This means that your neck will be at a neutral position the whole duration of your sleep. Although, levelling the height of your pillows does not necessarily mean that you should always only have one pillow. As long as the aggregate height of your pillows is not too high for your head, it should be acceptable. The main takeaway is to not overtax your neck while you are sleeping.

#2 Check your Backpack

The weight of your backpack should be able to let you maintain a normal standing posture. It should definitely not start to pull on your neck. When you can help it, make a conscious effort to leave a significant portion of your things behind. If your workplace or school has locker areas, make use of them. If you are going on a backpacking trip, you might want to consider investing in backpacks with wheels. These small changes can bring you to carry heavy backpacks less frequently.

#3 Visit a Chiropractor

Concerns regarding spine alignment and posture problems are best addressed by your local chiropractor. They can provide more accurate diagnosis and treatments to Forward Head Posture. They have the specific expertise when it comes to adjusting joints and restoring normal posture. There are also different mobility and flexibility exercises which chiropractors can teach you in order to relieve tightness and traction by yourself.

#4 Pay Attention to Posture

Check on your posture by the hour. If needed, download apps or set alarms that will remind you to stand or sit straight. Combining sitting and standing is a great way to resist the temptation to slouch. There are sit-stand desks that are available in stores or online which can motivate you to not stay in just one position (sitting or standing) for a prolonged period. You can opt to stand when sitting has reached a point of building muscle tension and discomfort. 

#5 Practice Yoga

The poses practiced in yoga ultimately aim to make you stronger and more flexible. These poses develop your core strength and core muscles, which play a role in how you sit and stand. Moreover, there is a wide range of movements that are available online which target Forward Head Posture. 

#6 Have an Ergonomic Work Chair

An ergonomic chair provides you with a good balance of comfort and support at the same time. This type of chair is able to simultaneously be comfortable and supportive because of its fully adjustable elements. The Ergonomic High-Back Office Chair has features that can allow you to customize your own seat by moving the back, head, and arm support. 

All in all, it is best to rehabilitate Forward Head Posture before it leads to severe health complications such as reduced shoulder mobility, osteoporosis, and cervical spine arthritis.  Remember, our best rule of thumb: Stop Looking Down.

Final Thoughts

The next time you’re reading documents or watching videos, be mindful of your neck posture. There are many causes to forward neck posture, not just happening at work. As well, there are many avenues to alleviate and correct your bad posture, from seeing a chiropractor or even getting an ergonomic chair. It’s your posture, you should take care of it.