This article is about forward head posture, becoming much more prominent nowadays due to increased technology use and sedentary time.
We usually see this posture associated with rounding of the shoulders and rounding of the upper back, so we need to address the issue of what’s happening at the neck. This forward placement of the head causes a considerable increase in the pressure placed on your spine, and over time, this can lead to neck pain breathing problems and a lot more severe health issues.
You’re going to look healthier, taller and overall more confident when you ideally get this posture corrected. If you were to draw a straight line down from the top of your head to your hips, everything should be aligned, so instead of your head protruding forward, your head does this due to weakened muscles.
Mainly the deep cervical flexors that are supposed to keep your head in this neutral position and too overactive and tight muscles that are causing your head to protrude forward; so what you need to do to fix this is stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles which have been shown in clinical studies like a study by Butler at Elle to be a very effective method in correcting forward head posture.
Daily Routine Plans to Fix Forward Head Posture
Sports & Spinal Solutions clinic will introduce you to a daily routine that you can use consisting of stretches for the tight muscles, strengthening exercises for the weak muscles and tips to prevent your forward head posture from coming back or worsening.
The three main muscles we need to focus on stretching and releasing are the sternocleidomastoid, the anterior scalenes and the suboccipital. As a result of hours of looking down at our phones or computer every day, these muscles become stuck in a shortened position, creating the forward head posture that you see the first stretch is going to lengthen.
1- In the sternocleidomastoid, you can do this either sitting or standing, but ensure that you keep your back straight and neck in line with your spine as you stretch.
To stretch the left side, use your left hand to press your chest to create some traction, rotate your head to the opposite side, and then bring your head back until you feel a stretch. You should feel a nice pull in the front of your neck. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds or ten deep breaths, then switch to the other side.
2- The second stretch is similar but will target the anterior scalenes to stretch the left side and use your left hand to depress your chest.
Bring your right ear to the right shoulder, rotate your head to the left, and point your chin up towards the ceiling again.
You should feel a nice stretch in the front of your neck. Hold this for 30 to 60 seconds or ten deep breaths, then switch to the other side.
3- The third muscle we will target is the suboccipital, located in the back of the neck. We will release them by using a tennis ball or lacrosse ball and placing it on one side of the back of the neck while lying on the ground and tucking the chin up and down.
You can hold the ball with your other hand to prevent it from slipping. Do this for about ten deep breaths on each side. We will work on strengthening weakened muscles in our neck, which is just as important as stretching the tightened muscles.
As we previously did for this, we are going to use chin tucks which activate both strengthen the weakened muscles and lengthen the tight ones. to start, do these while lying on your back with your knees bent, so tuck your chin by activating the muscles below your chin in the front of your neck and hold this for a second or two and repeat.
Think about trying to give yourself a double chin, and you can also use two fingers to guide and cue your chin through the movement. Perform about 15 reps of these once these get easy for you. You can progress it by lifting your head slightly off the floor by a centimetre and then performing the chin tucks with your head elevated.
Again, focus on activating the muscles in the front of your neck that you should feel working throughout the movement, and these don’t necessarily have to be performed on the ground. They can be done sitting or standing with your back straight against a wall or even when you’re driving or just standing. Try to get around 30 to 40 reps of these throughout the day.
Tips to Prevent your Forward Head Posture
In addition to these exercises, you must be aware of your neck alignment throughout the day. During lifts you perform in the gym, when sitting or working on the computer, always try to keep your head and neck in a neutral position with your back and when it comes to exercises in the gym, something we see a lot is sticking the forward head during pressing and pulling movements.
This will only worsen your head position over time, so be aware of this and keep your head aligned with your back during all of your lifts instead of protruding it forward.
Here is a sample routine you can use ideally twice daily. Regarding postural Corrections, frequency is the most crucial factor so try to do these at least a couple of times a day.
You’ll start to see improvements in your posture very quickly but remember it’s not something that’s just going to fix itself overnight. Still, if you are consistent with the routine we shared with you, you will see a lot of significant improvements quickly.
However, that being said, forward head posture, more often than not, is a company with upper cross syndrome or rounding of the shoulders and the upper back.
Make sure to book your free consultation with one of our experienced physiotherapists for further help.
A Cause of Forward Head Posture: Cell phone use
As most human activities are in front of the body and involve the head and neck being forward and flexed, all the ligaments except for the anterior longitudinal ligament are at risk of being injured by creep’s slow stretching over long periods.
The cervical intervertebral disc is subjected to creep forces during flexion as well. These ligaments are also injured during the flexion portion of a whiplash injury.
The anterior longitudinal ligament is stretched during the extension portion of a whiplash injury. Since the capsular ligaments are the main restraints to axial rotation, they are especially vulnerable to injury when a force is applied with the forward head, and the neck turned to the side.