A forward head position with extending chin and rounding of the shoulders. Forward head posture is more common now due to the use of technology such as smart phones. Poor postural patterns over time can cause neck pain and left untreated develop into more serious neck pathology.
Forward head posture increases the weight forces acting on the lower neck structures. The head and neck structures are brought forward in front of the bodies natural centre of gravity.
Correcting forward head posture can help improve confidence and may even help in the treatment of depression. When posture is improved the spine is “taller” and the shoulders are opened. This improved posture opens you up to the world, you are showing your confidence by opening yourself up to vulnerability. The upright posture invites people into your personal space rather than the closed posture of rounding of the shoulders. The brain responds to these stimuli by releasing feel good chemicals. Mood is therefore enhanced with an improved posture.
Ideal posture is aligned with a straight line from the vertex (top of the skull), a point just behind the ear, the shoulder, mid Thoracic spine (mid back), hip and knee.
The cause of forward head posture is weakened deep neck flexor muscles (core muscle of the neck) and overactive mobiliser muscles such as Sternocleidomastoid SCM, Anterior Scalene and the Sub occipital muscles.
The treatment for forward head posture – stretch tightened muscles and strengthen weakened muscles. Avoid habits which contribute to the poor posture.
Muscles to stretch:
- Sub occipitals
- Anterior Scalene
Use a tennis ball. Locate the sub occipital muscles with the fingers, just below the skull and at the level of the upper neck. Lay on the ground with the tennis ball compressing the sub occipital muscles. Tuck chin to stretch the muscles across the tennis ball. Release the chin and repeat for 10 deep breaths through the stomach.
To stretch the left side. Sit upright. Place the left hand over the middle of the upper chest and depress slightly. Turn the head away to the right (the opposite side), then extend the neck backwards. Hold for up to 30 seconds.
Stretch the left side. Sit with a straight back and neck in line with the mid back. Place the left hand over the middle upper chest. Bring your right ear to the right shoulder, rotate your head to the left and tilt your chin to the ceiling. Hold for up to 30sec.
Strengthen Weakened Muscles:
Lay on your back or stand against a wall. Open your shoulders (mid back and back of head contacting wall or floor). Tuck your chin without flexing the neck by tightening muscles in the lower neck. Hold. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. For more advanced progression of the tuck lift the head 1cm off the floor, keep neck straight and in line with the mid-back. From this position perform the chin tucks using 2 fingers to depress the chin.