Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Forward head posture (FHP) is caused by poor habitual head posture. FHP creates a lot of strain around the neck joints, causes pains around the shoulder muscles and affects the spines alignment (forms an arch).
The head is the heaviest part of the human body it can way up to 5kg. So with this in mind the neck has to co-operate with the weight, the further forward the head the more weight the upper body has to take.
The majority of us spend most of our time looking down on our phones, arched over a computer screen and not thinking about how we are sitting.
The problem has been discovered, more people suffer from tensions headaches, tightness around the neck, shoulders, compressed chests (chest pains), discomfort in the mid-back and pins and needles in the arms and hands. So when your doing work mentally your mind starts to feel unfocused on your physicality and lessens your creativity daily.
You start to feel frustrated and anxious about how you physically feel which then leads to another issue in the body.
The more you ignore the signs you will only develop chronic reoccurring problems which a pain killer won’t fix.
So how do I fix this?
Be mindful. Start to recognise the messages your body sends to you. How do you normally sit? Do you find yourself correcting your posture time and time again? Your mind just becomes comfortable and unfocused on your physical body especially when you are not taking a lot of notice of it.
Habits. You wake up and what is the first thing you do? " I brush my teeth every morning", well why?... " because I do not want to have bad oral health and ruin my teeth", ok great so what about your posture? Do you fit a time every day to help with that too? There is a mindset of the time, we do not know how to fit everything in, but we can make time if you want, right? It seems so habitual brushing teeth every morning but it is only because it was pushed on us as kids, it does not mean we can not take 2-3 minutes of our day to correct our posture.
Exercise. The best way to correct alignment is to exercise our muscles. Take baby steps to challenge your body and further intensify your workout regimen. Not only does it help you physically but impacts you mentally into a feel-good entity. The best muscle groups to work is muscles of the upper back such as, the upper trapezius ( around the neck and the shoulders), levator scapulae ( side of the neck muscle that connects to the shoulder blade), and latissmus dorsi ( large muscle lower to the middle back and connects to the upper arm).
Stretch. A great way to bring to your daily habits is stretching. Stretching helps to loosen the muscles from feeling achy it can bring instant relief, very addictive in fact, once done habitually. Stretching is great to pair with exercise-- strengthen and lengthen-- to ease any soreness the next day. Even doing a 2-3 minute stretch to correct the posture daily is very effective. You can do stretches at home or at work that is super quick and easy ( video at the bottom of this article provides incredible stretches). Click here to take you to a quick four-minute video on YouTube of one posture, which I believe, is very effective and you can do anywhere.
Sleeping correctly. This is a big topic upmost people, how do I sleep correctly? Sleeping positions is another habitual problem we are facing. Our bodies are so used to hunching in a ball position, curling our heads and aching our back. I can honestly say sleeping incorrectly is one of the pain factors of bad posture. My article on sleep provides more detail about sleeping positions and solutions to improve your sleeping habits.
Saunas. Extreme heat for the muscles is very effective. Saunas are best paired with exercise as sauna not only provides clarity for the mind but helps to improve muscle mass and inflammation. According to a study from Rhonda Patrick, who describes in-depth knowledge on the incredible benefits of saunas suggests, "Heat stress from using the sauna may modulate improvements in physical fitness and athletic performance by increasing endurance and maintaining or promoting gains in muscle mass". So, while you are sitting in the sauna you can try a 'tucking chin stretch' to further improve muscle development.
Essentials. The best way to improve your posture is by adding some essentials or removing items that could be affecting your posture. Essentials, such as, changing your pillow to one that supports your neck while you are sleeping. It can take some adjusting to do but your body will thank you for it. What about adjusting your computer to the right height or buying a laptop stand that will help to transform your laptop into a posture-perfect desktop workstation, making back and muscle pain a thing of the past! For more essentials click here, I have picked out the top-rated products on Amazon so you have less time searching.
Massage / Physiotherapist/ chiropractor. Therapeutic treatments are a must! They can provide you with a professional analysis of your own anatomy structure and give you the advice to take home with you. As a massage therapist, I always suggest a session at least every four weeks to help the muscles maintain a constant release. Us therapist always give advice to help with stress tension at home (which is everything listed above and more). Normally people who do not practice these steps at home would need regular attention around every two weeks. It is wonderful to get treatments and take your time to focus on your own recovery. I would simply try them all and see what treatment works for you. For the best recovery is to implement all eight steps.
What stretches and exercise are effective?
With just a few of these stretches and exercises you can do, that you can implement every day, you would notice a big difference. Here are a few simple ones listed below:
Head tilt: Tilt your head forward slowly and rest your chin on your chest (you can place your hands over the top of your head for an extra push). Hold for five to ten seconds. Return to a neutral position.
Head turn: Turn your head to the left until you feel a stretch. Hold for five to ten seconds. Return to a neutral position. Repeat on the other side.
Neck stretch: Push your chin forward until you feel your throat stretch. Hold for five to ten seconds. Pull your chin back in to return to a neutral position.
Side head tilts: Tilt your head toward your left shoulder until you feel a stretch (you can also place your hand on the opposite side of your head and pull a little more to intensify the stretch). Hold for five to ten seconds. Repeat on the other side.
These techniques can be done at home, with the kids, while watching television and while you are waiting for your cooking. Never make the excuse for self-care. Look after yourself just as you would for others or material possessions.
The YouTube clip below is around nine minutes long ( scroll to the bottom of the article) that I recommenced trying. The coach describes in-depth information and easy step by step guides to follow. She demonstrates five different poses using a dog leash! So you can basically use anything that is long enough to stretch your arms with, she also suggests a towel. The best option I recommend is a resistant band (more range of motion) if you have one at home.
How do I know these poses work?
I would know these postures work because I had to do them myself. I suffered badly with forward head posture growing up due to an accident I had when I was younger. I did not notice for a long time what my posture was doing to me, until a couple of years ago. So with years of bad posture it only led onto other problems such as:
Anterior pelvic tilt
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause pain and stiffness around your jaw, ear and temple.
Lower back pain
When you type forward head posture and... into google you will see all of these problems can be linked in with bad posture. Honestly it was a journey, still is for some areas, but the best thing I could do is to help improve my postures and finding affordable ways to do so. I did a lot of researching on websites, watched YouTube videos and I knew I had to put the work in. There is so much content online and I have to admit this helped me a lot. Now I can pass on some helpful advice for you to try. I hope it helps you too!
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