Forward Head Posture

Forward head posture is a postural problem in which the head is pushed forward and out of the bodies centre of gravity, which increases the risk of cervical disc problems and degenerative problems for cervical and thoracic spine.This posture is usually associated with thoracic spine kyphosis (‘hunch’ of the upper back) and flattening of the lower back.

Contributing Factors:

Backpacks: Children are now using backpacks to carry school books weighing up to an alarming 30-40 lbs! This forces the head forward to counter balance the weight resulting in abnormal stress to the discs, joints and nerves of the neck, shoulders and lower back.

Computer Ergonomics: Positioning computer screens too low or too high, coupled with the repetitive motion of moving the head forward to read the screen. This may be due to something as simple as insufficient screen brightness or small text size.

Use of bifocal glasses: causes a person to look up when they try to read using the bottom half of their glasses.

Video games/TV: Most kids use poor posture when playing video games and watching TV. Repetitively sitting in one position for long periods of time causes the body to adapt to this bad posture.

Trauma: Falls and trauma can cause whiplash resulting in muscle imbalance. This pulls the spine out of alignment forcing the head forward.

Weak muscles: The lack of developed back muscle strength causes muscle imbalances which may include:

  • Tight chest and neck extensor tightness (Scalenes and Levator Scapula)
  • Weakness of neck deep flexors (at the front of the neck)
  • Weakness of the and shoulder blade muscles (Rhomboids and erector spinae).

Symptoms:

These people ususally have the symptoms like tingling or numbless in the arm, pain and stiffness of neck and shoulder muscles,and burning pain between shoulder blades. There may also be pain and grind problems at the Jaw.

Treatment:

The first step is correcting the posture of the patient with a stretching program for the chest and neck muscles and a strengthening program for shoulder blades and upper back muscles.

Physio Savvy offers a comprehensive exercise program for both groups of muscles, those which need strengthening and those which need stretching. This program is inclusive of the correcting posture training in different daily activities, while offering different supportive devices such as cushion and roller to correct the posture of the patient.We apply various taping technique to stimulates the muscles to have their normal functions. Manual therapy to release tight structures will always be incorporate into treatment to help with pain.

Prevention:

Prevention can be achieved by having:

  • Good ergonomics in our life style to maintain the proper posture and alignment of the body in daily activities:
  • Using the right shoes to stabilise the body from it’s base
  • Using a proper pillow.
  • Strengthening our shoulder and neck muscles before pain starts can be helpful to avoid these problems
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Parisa Tanoori

Parisa Tanoori

Physiotherapist at Physio Savvy
Parisa is certified with a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from Shiraz University of Medical Science, Iran. She is currently completing her PhD in Sports Medicine with the special interest of Kinesiology taping in Universiti Malaya.
Parisa Tanoori

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Posted in Musculoskeletal Disorders.