01 Aug Forward Head Posture
Forward Head Posture (FHP) is a common condition that develops over time. In a normal neutral posture, your ears will be positioned directly above the shoulders, creating a “straight line” down the middle for your body. As the name suggests, FHP causes the head to hang in an unnatural forward position with your ears positioned in front of the shoulders.
This misalignment affects the muscles of the upper back, neck and shoulders which support your head, and places them under unnecessary strain. This misalignment can cause the muscles’ length and strength to change, often making them weaker.
These changes to the muscles can cause the following symptoms:
- Chronic neck pain
- Tight neck muscles
- Reduced range of motion in the neck
- Back pain
- Herniated discs
- Muscle spasms
- Temporomandibular joint (jaw) pain
- Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands
- Loss of balance
FHP can be caused by prolonged bending of the neck when working or a loss of muscle strength due to age. Other causes of this condition can include: being hunched over a steering wheel when driving long distances; having an occupation that requires you to move forward; carrying heavy back packs; slouching as a result of long-term bad posture; sleeping with your head in a very high position, or even reading in bed; whiplash injuries; keeping the neck and head in awkward positions to alleviate pain; weak upper back muscles; degenerative bone diseases such as arthritis; or congenital malformation.
Forward Head Posture may be prevented by following these tips:
- Avoid prolonged static postures (staying in one position), such as sitting for a long time.
- Hold your smart devices and position your computer or laptop screens to eye level, to help reduce strain from the back and neck.
- Ensure that you take frequent breaks when working. You may either stretch to relieve stiff muscles or take a quick walk.
- Correct your work stations to ensure that you maintain the correct posture when sitting.
- Avoid sleeping with your pillow too high. Sleeping with your head elevated in this position can cause your muscles to adapt to it.
Treatment for FHP aims to relieve tension in the muscles and ligaments by restoring the curves of the neck and spine to their natural state. Osteopathy utilises techniques such as stretching and massage for general treatment of soft tissue and mobilisation of specific joints. Pain medication and anti-inflammatory injections may help to relieve symptoms of FHP, but does not address the root cause of the postural misalignment. Total correction of your posture will only occur when the structural and muscular function of the neck, shoulders, and upper back has been restored.
Osteopathy is a holistic approach that uses hands-on techniques to diagnose, treat and prevent musculoskeletal aliments. Osteopathic treatment is perfectly safe to be used alongside other forms of treatment.
Contact us at OsteoVision if you would like to discuss your symptoms, have any questions regarding your posture, or would like to book an appointment. Our team of highly skilled professionals are always on hand to assist you.
Ashburner, G., 2015. Forward Head Posture. [online] Osteogoodhealth.com. Available at: <https://www.osteogoodhealth.com/blog/forward-head-posture/> [Accessed 16 February 2022].
Hecht, M., 2020. Forward Head Posture: Exercises and Stretches to Try. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/forward-head-posture#yoga-pose> [Accessed 16 February 2022].
Tran, S., 2020. Forward Head Posture (Text Neck). [online] Quay Health. Available at: <https://quayhealth.com.au/forward-head-posture-text-neck/> [Accessed 19 February 2022].