The Forward Head Posture
In the January newsletter, we discussed the different types of common postures observed in people and how ideally the spine likes to be in an as neutral position as possible (not leaning forward too far and not overextending backwards).
This month, we will start fixing those with a Kyphotic posture (the slouching and neck protrusion).
First we start by correcting the top of the spine; the neck.
To minimize the stress and strains on the neck, the cervical spine ideally has to be in a vertical line with the body's centre of gravity. This position is balanced off by the front neck muscles (the sternocleidomastoid) and the back neck muscles (levator scapulae and trapezius). Like the wires holding a bridge.
This abnormal posture can cause headaches, neck pain, sometimes jaw pain and rounded shoulders. Most people also often feel pain/tightness starting from the neck radiating up to the base of the skull. In a prolonged period, an excessive load on the joint and muscles are imposed which can then degenerate the cervical spine leading to irritation of the nerves.
In Forward Head Posture, the SCM shortens and the middle fibres of trapezius and levator increases in length and weakness. Most of the time the commonly prescribed treatment for FHP is to stretch the levator and trapezius (which is good short term) but it doesn't give you a long term solution as the SCM is still shortened and the levator and middle trapezius are in a lengthened position.
What needs to be done is to relax the SCM and bring posterior cervical muscles to a correct length. To do so, the best exercise to begin with is the chin tuck exercise.
Rolled Towel Chin Tucks:
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/m3smFwVGy7s
A FHP not only increases load on the cervical spine, it also leads to a rounded shoulder which enhances the flexion of the mid back (the slouch).
Being in this position long term can affect your lung expansion capabilities, digestion rate, shoulder impingement and also cause loss of height.
Correcting your mid back will help your neck feel better in the long period. If you find that doing the chin tuck exercise does not make you feel any better at all, it probably means you will have to start fixing the thoracic spine first.
The seated thoracic extension exercise is one of our clinics favourite. All you need is a chair and it can be practiced anywhere. Try doing these 2 exercises 10-20 reps throughout the day and feel the difference it makes on your neck and back!
Seated Thoracic Stretch:
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/YcURm7DWXko
By Iris Tan
B.App.Sc (Chiropractic) M.Clin.Chiropractic.
Memb: CA, Gonstead (Australia)
1.Lee, K.-J., Han, H.-Y., Cheon, S.-H., Park, S.-H., & Yong, M.-(2015). The effect of forward head posture on muscle activity during neck protraction and retraction. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(3), 977–979. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.27.977
2.Dalkilinç, (2015). The benefits of good posture - Murat Dalkilinç. YouTube. Retrieved 8 March 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyK0oE5rwFY