Is Poor Posture Causing You Pain?
Forward neck and head posture has become commonplace within modern-day living and working.
People are spending longer periods of time bending over a cell phone, tablet, or computer screen. While these electronic devices are wonderful pieces of technology, forward head posture can disrupt your normal body alignment.
This can be painful and cause a variety of side effects and without intervention, your overall health may decline over time.
But what else can cause forward neck and head posture? More importantly, can you correct your poor posture?
What Causes Forward Neck and Head Posture?
Forward neck and head posture, often called “tech neck”, can occur when the neck slants forward, placing the head further in front of the shoulders instead of directly above.
Considering the average human head weighs around 10 to 11 lbs, this can put a lot of stress on your cervical spine if your neck and head are imbalanced.
Besides hunching over an electronic device, other possible causes of “tech neck” may include:
- Injury, such as whiplash
- Occupations or hobbies that require leaning forward, such as crafting
- Extended periods of driving while hunching over
- Frequent carrying of weight, such as a backpack or child
- Long-term bad posture
- Sleeping with your head positioned too high
- Reading while slouching over
- Muscle weakness in the upper back
- Diseases such as arthritis and bone degeneration
- Congenital malformation
Many of these factors can lead to painful elongation and shortening of muscles of the neck, as well as compression of the cervical vertebrae (the uppermost portion of your spine that supports the head and protects your spinal cord).
But which muscles do forward neck and head posture affect, and what are the possible side effects?
Muscle Imbalance and Side Effects from Forward Head Posture
Over time, forward head and neck posture can lead to significant muscle imbalances as your body tries to compensate and adapt to hold your head up.
Common muscles that become long and weakened include:
- Deep cervical flexors
- Erector spinae
- Shoulder blade retractors
These muscles can benefit from strengthening to correct your posture and relieve neck pain.
Muscles that become short and tightened include:
- Suboccipital muscles
- Chest muscles
- Levator scapulae muscles
Simple stretching of these muscles can help reduce neck pain and improve forward neck and head posture.
Remember, this can happen over a long period of time. You may not realize it’s a problem until other side effects begin to surface.
Side effects can include:
- Chronic neck pain
- Tight neck muscles
- Decreased range of motion
- Headaches or migraines
- Joint pain
- Jaw pain in the temporomandibular joint
- Nerve issues in the arms and hands (numbness and tingling)
- Decreased balance control
- Muscle tension and spasms
- Increased stress on the cervical spine
- Hyperflexion and hyperextension
- Muscle overload
- Hunched upper back
- Loss of muscle strength
Studies have shown that forward head posture is associated with rounded shoulders, also called kyphosis.
Kyphosis and forward neck and head posture has also been associated with increased mortality rates within the elderly community.
More studies have shown that forward neck and head posture may reduce respiratory function as well.
Can You Correct Forward Neck and Head Posture?
Implementing a simple routine of stretching and strengthening exercises can usually be a good neck posture corrector. Paying close attention to good posture may reduce pain and relieve side effects as well.
When your posture is misaligned, it can overload the muscles and connective tissue of your upper back, neck, and shoulders that support your head.
In turn, this can affect your nerves, tendons, and ligaments connected to those muscles.
Studies have shown that specific stretching, strengthening exercises and manual therapy by a chiropractor may help restore muscle alignment of your neck and head.
Simple Exercises to Correct Poor Posture
Unless your symptoms are more severe, practicing these exercises and stretches may help prevent forward head posture.
- Chin tucks
Chin tucks are as simple as they are beneficial. Plus, you can do them anywhere you need to.
- Keep your chin and head parallel with the floor. Tilt your chin towards your chest, just like making a double chin.
- While keeping your chin tucked in, move the back of your head away from the base of your neck.
- Hold the position for three deep breaths.
- Return to a neutral position.
Other variations of this exercise include:
- Chin tucks while lying down
- Chin tucks while standing against the wall
- Forward neck stretch
In addition to the above, try the following:
- Exercise for correcting bad posture
- Exercise for improving your posture
- How to sleep with good posture
- Standing posture exercises
How to Check Your Posture
You can get a good feel for what a correct posture feels like with this test:
- Stand straight with your head, shoulders, hips, and feet against a wall.
- Now move your arms up and down against the wall at least 10 times.
- When you finish the exercise and walk away, your body should feel properly aligned.
This is the first good step to becoming aware of what good posture is when standing, sitting, or walking.
If you sit at a desk try this:
- Use a chair with lumbar support
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Position your computer screen and cell phone at eye level
- Position your mouse and keyboard so your hands and wrists aren’t strained
Remember, good posture takes practice!
If you tend to slump over, work at it through exercise, stretches, and mindful practices.
Improve Your Quality of Life With Better Posture
Forward neck and head posture may cause a wide range of issues for your body.
By combining strengthening and stretching into your regular routine, you’ll be well on your way to a better posture.
With good posture, you’ll feel better and more natural than slouching or leaning forward.
Contact Mind Body Spine today for more information about achieving better posture, learning more about exercise plans, expert nutritional counselling, and so much more.