The influence of technology on our health, routines, and, most significantly, posture is increasingly evident. Many individuals are standing, walking, or sitting while looking down at their smartphone screens wherever they go. Looking down at your computer all day can cause forward head posture if you weren’t aware. Forward head posture (FHP) is a prevalent postural fault involving a forward extending of the head compared to the body as a whole.
Forward head posture detracts from one’s appearance and can also lead to a slew of other health issues. Over time, forward head posture can put a strain on your neck and radiate down to your shoulders. Forward-head posture can also induce nerve impingement and other upper back and shoulders problems. This article will look at what forward head posture is, how it forms, and what you can do to avoid it. We’ll also give you some basic exercises and stretches to use at home to correct the posture difficulties that lead to forward head posture.
What is Forward Head Posture?
A forward head posture is a postural misalignment that generally results from kyphosis (exaggerated rounding of the upper back and shoulders). Kyphosis can be caused by various factors, including injury and overuse of muscles; however, poor posture is the most prevalent cause. The neck, chest, and shoulder muscles tighten and shorten when poor posture is maintained for a lengthy time, whereas the upper back muscles elongate and weaken.
When this occurs, the shoulders are drawn into a hunched posture, pushing the neck and head down. Individuals who work at a computer for long periods often have a forward head posture. Forward head posture is caused by several factors, including long hours spent in front of the television, playing video games, or looking down at a smartphone. Forward head posture can contribute to neck pain, restricted range of motion in the neck and shoulders, and other health issues and change one’s look.
Why Does the Head Move Forward?
Consider a bowling ball balanced atop a long, flexible metal pole. If you add a little bend to the top of the pole, you’ll probably notice that the bowling bowl begins to weigh down and cause the pole to bend even more. It will bend over time as it gets bent more. The head is tilted forward, similar to what happens when you look down all of the time, and your head is the bowling ball, and the pole is your spine. Your head may not appear to be as heavy as a bowling ball, but it weighs approximately 10-11 pounds (4.5-5 kg).
As previously said, looking down at your phone all day or hunching in front of your computer screen will put your neck in an unfavorable position. Over time, your muscles and tissues will become accustomed to the postures we keep them in for lengthy durations. The ear, shoulder, hip, knees, and ankles should be in a straight line when you are sitting correctly. The ears will be out of line with the forward head posture.
Symptoms of Forward Head Posture
Forward head posture in the short term can induce persistent or recurrent neck discomfort, stiffness, shoulder discomfort, and upper back pain. Chronic tension headaches are another potential consequence of forward head posture. The tightness of the suboccipital muscles, which join the top of the neck to the base of the skull, can cause chronic tension headaches as well.
The following are some of the most common symptoms linked with forward head posture:
- Rounded shoulders
- Myofascial trigger points and pain
- Reduced lung capacity
- Decreased range of motion
- Tingling in the hands, arms, and fingers
If left uncontrolled, excessive stress on the spinal column due to forward head posture may lead to even worse problems, including disc herniation, degenerative joint disease, nerve irritation, and osteoporosis.
Forward Head Posture Treatment Options
Neck pain that is not severe or moderate is rarely a significant problem and can typically be treated with over-the-counter pain medications, cold compresses, and rest. However, if your neck pain persists or is severe, it could be a symptom of an underlying problem. In this scenario, it is strongly advised that you visit a medical professional. Chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and exercise are the most frequent therapies for forward head posture.
A cervical spine specialist may suggest one or a combination of treatments depending on the severity of the problem and level of pain. To assist with discomfort, a doctor may prescribe pain medications. Physical therapists and Chiropractors will recommend exercises that may be done at home and lifestyle modifications to prevent forward head posture from recurring, and treatment for neck pain.
How to Fix Your Own Forward Head Posture
Neck exercises and stretches have been found to be highly successful in eliminating forward head posture in numerous studies. Strengthening exercises and stretches that target the weakened muscles of the upper back (for example, the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and latissmus dorsi) are examples. Stretching tight, shortened muscles in the neck and chest (such as the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and neck flexors) has been found to improve kyphosis and, in turn, help repair forward head posture.
To correct your forward head posture, you must reverse all of the muscular imbalances that have been produced when your neck is in a forward posture. Some muscles will become excessively tight, while others will grow excessively long and weaken. As a result, we want to loosen tight muscles and build up weak ones.
What muscles are involved, and how are they affected?
- The muscle at the rear of your neck (neck extensors, suboccipital) will be excessively tense.
- The Sternocleidomastoideus muscle on the side of your neck gets too tense. This muscle originates at the back of your neck and wraps itself around the front of your neck. If this is excessively tight, it pushes your head forward.
- The deep cervical flexors, which are found at the front of your neck and run down either side of your throat, will be weakened. When you keep your head forward, they switch off since they no longer need to support your head.
The objective of correcting your forward head posture is to reverse these aspects.
Watch These Crucial Videos
If you pay attention to anything in this article, make watching the two videos mentioned your top priority. Yes, you may even go directly to the end of this essay if necessary! These two videos will teach you all you need to know about forward head posture and how to correct it. All of the procedures in the rest of this post further elaborate on the exercises and stretches shown in these two videos.
This video includes a full neck stretch and two stretches to help you improve your forward head posture.
This video gives a brief explanation of the muscle imbalances that lead to forward head posture and a modification to the lean wall exercise mentioned below.
The Best Stretches and Exercises for Fixing Forward Head Posture
In this section, we’ll offer you a few simple exercises and stretches that you can do at home without the need for any equipment. It’s critical to remember that these exercises are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Consult with your medical professional to rule out an underlying cause if you are having persistent or recurring neck discomfort due to forward head posture. If you haven’t seen the two film clips above, now is the time to do so. All of these stretching and exercises are based on those videos.
1. The tight neck muscles must be released
The first step is to release the sternocleidomastoid muscle’s tension. It may seem difficult, but it’s simple to accomplish. To begin, you must first identify the muscle. The muscle extends down the front of your neck and starts just behind the earlobe. If you’ve found it correctly, squeeze it near the top, and it should feel rather hefty at first, then get thinner as you descend. Run your fingers up and down it with some pressure to release it.
Make tiny circles with your fingertips on the muscle, then work your way down to the base of the neck after running your fingers back and forth a few times. Just for a minute or two, then you’re done! If you’re having trouble finding it or need more letoff, watch the video above.
2. Release the Back of the Neck
Now that the muscles on either side of the back of the neck are loose, it’s time to massage the muscle that runs down each side of the back of the neck. A peanut massage ball is the most efficient method, but you may also get someone else to massage it or utilize a massage ball. Lie down on the floor and gently rest your back of the neck on the peanut. Gradually Roll up to the top of your neck and back over your shoulder blades. You may lift your hips to increase pressure, but don’t apply too much force to the neck.
3. Stretch the Neck
Stretching your neck can help with the tightness that comes with forward head posture. As a general rule, when you feel a tight spot, move your head around and hold for at least 30 seconds on the sides and rear of your neck (scalenes, suboccipital, Sternocleidomastoideus). Keep in mind that you’ll need to be delicate. For an effective, focused neck stretch, see the video above.
4. Wall Lean Exercise
The Wall Lean Exercise will aid in the development of neck strength, allowing you to push your head back. Watch the video above to discover how to do this activity. You may also perform this exercise while lying on the floor (following instructions below).
- Lie down on your back, with your knees bent.
- The chin should be tucked close to the chest and then pushed to the ground.
- Attempt to push your neck down to the floor while retaining the posture. Don’t push too hard.
- Consider the muscle in your throat front and ensure it is being used. You might not notice it at first, but you should learn to identify it.
5. Chin Tucks
You may also try the chin tuck exercise if you don’t want to perform the lean wall exercise described above. The chin tuck is an excellent method to reduce forward head posture and alleviate neck discomfort. This move stretches tight scalene and suboccipital muscles while also strengthening the upper thoracic extensors. To do a chin tuck:
- Start by standing and placing the tip of a finger on your chin.
- Push the head backward with your finger as you tuck your chin down and bend it.
- Hold this posture for 3 to 5 seconds, then relax.
- Repeat the activity ten times.
6. Prone Cobra Exercise
Simply performing the wall leans every day will aid in the improvement of your forward head posture. Still, you may also include the prone cobra exercise in your daily regimen to address additional problems that often accompany forward head posture, such as rounded shoulders. This move targets your upper back, neck, and head. To help pull your shoulders back, it also works your upper back.
7. Doorway Pec Stretch
In almost every individual, forward head posture is associated with tight pectorals and rounded shoulders. This stretch targets tight chest and shoulder muscles, which improves your posture as a whole and relieves tension on the cervical spine. To do this basic yet effective stretch:
- Start by placing your hands on either side of a door.
- Lunge forward as far as you can, feeling a stretch across your chest and shoulders.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds, then return to the beginning position.
- Repeat the routine three times. If your pectorals are particularly tight, you may need to massage them.
8. Tension Relief for Forward Head Posture
Myofascial release targets tension in the neck and shoulder increases range of motion, and relieves many associated secondary symptoms related to forward head posture, such as tension headaches. You can also utilize a massage ball or a tennis ball on yourself for this treatment. When you’ve got a nice massage ball, you can either rest it against a wall, as shown in the video above or lie on the ground. Begin by laying on your back with your knees bent and the ball beneath your traps. Roll your upper back and lower neck over the ball, concentrating on sore regions while standing firmly planted on the ground.
9. Plank for an Extra Posture Boost
- Lie on the floor as if you’re going to do a pushup.
- Raise your upper body until it is resting on your forearms by keeping your palms down and elbows aligned with your shoulders.
- At the same time, lift your lower body up onto your toes.
- For 20 seconds, keep your head in line with your back by holding this position.
- Three times a day, do the planks.
How to Prevent Forward Head Posture
There’s no purpose to performing all of these workouts if you keep putting your head in an abnormal posture and reinforcing your poor posture. You may have to be more careful about when you place your head forward. While you can’t always prevent injuries or accidents, there are a few simple things you can do to maintain good posture and avoid forward head posture from developing or worsening. The following are some suggestions offered by Harvard Medical School researchers to prevent forward head posture and neck discomfort.
- Keep your head and shoulders in line. Avoid pushing your chin forward when walking, sitting, or working at a computer.
- Check whether your computer screen, tablet, or book is at eye level. You may change your job level by lowering your chair, moving your monitor and keyboard, or using an adjustable desk.
- When you’ve been sitting for a long time, take frequent breaks. Set a timer to remind you to get up, walk around, and stretch at least once every hour if necessary.
- Use lumbar support. Invest in an ergonomic office chair that may be adjusted to help your lower back while sitting. A lumbar support cushion can also be used.
- Keep it higher and closer to eye level when looking at your phone, or simply use it less. There’s no need to be glued to your phone all day. Get out and look around; inquire!
- In most cases, forward head posture does not manifest by itself. You could discover that you have other posture issues. Rounding shoulders and a rounded upper back are common in individuals with a forward head posture. You’ll want to repair these in tandem with your forward head posture.
- What is the thickness of your pillow? If you use a too thick cushion, it may push your head far forward off the line with the rest of your body. When you remain in this posture for an extended period, your muscles become used to it. Consider investing in a thinner cushion or an orthopedic pillow.
Correcting your Posture Takes Time
The forward head posture didn’t just spring up on its own, but it most likely developed over time as a result of poor habits. On the other hand, the body is extremely flexible and a helpful tool. It will react favorably if you are more aware of employing it and utilizing training to improve your flaws. Your body will be grateful to you for making these adjustments and reward you with improved mood, optimism, and happiness. Adjusting your forward head posture is truly worthwhile.
Forward head posture is a simple problem to correct, but the best method to avoid neck discomfort and other health concerns linked with FHP is to prevent it from happening in the first place. However, the information in this book is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. After completing the procedures and stretches above, see your doctor to rule out an underlying problem if you still have discomfort.