When we talk about posture problems, most people immediately think about keeping the spine straight. Of course, this is a big part of it, but keeping the spine straight is also impacted by how we hold our heads. The average human head weighs about 12 pounds. When our posture is good and we keep the spine, neck and head in alignment, we barely feel the weight of the head. However, even the slightest forward head posture can increase the pressure on the neck and spine.
“For every inch of forward head posture (FHP), it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” (Physiology of Joints,Vol. 3)
So, if you are holding your 12 pound head three inches forward, you’re actually holding up the equivalent of 42 pounds against the forces of gravity! And that is going to put some serious strain on your body!
I see so many clients who are troubled by neck and upper back pain. Massage can reduce and often eliminate the pain and aid the healing process. However, for permanent improvement it is often necessary to recognize what causes us to have forward head posture and then take some actions to change it. A few of the biggest culprits:
- Posture while driving
- Sitting in front of the computer screen
- Posture while sleeping
Fix it before real problems occur!
People who have FHP over an extended period of time can actually suffer from much more than just strained muscles and ligaments. Studies have shown that FHP can result in a loss of up to 30% of lung capacity! In addition it can lead to:
- Migraine headaches
- Mouth breathing during sleep, leading to sleep apnea in some cases
- Teeth clenching
- Joint pain
- Gastrointestinal irritation
As you can see, maintaining a forward head posture can lead to discomfort and even result in some serious health issues. My advice . . . make a conscious effort to correct your posture, keep that head back and, if necessary, get some help in relieving any neck strain.
To your health!