Warning: Forward Head Posture can affect your Health

by Paula Allia PT, DHSc, MTC, OCS

Here we are at the last month of 2017! It seems that time is flying by but I can tell you for certain; the older you are the more important it is to recognize the imbalances in your body and make corrections so that you can live life with better quality. Do not wait until you have pain in your body. If attention to detail was done by all when younger the orthopedic and health issues that may be experienced now could be absent or at least less severe. One of the most common identifiable problems that can be observed in many people is the forward head posture (FHP). In normal posture, the earlobe
is aligned with the shoulder when observed from the side. FHP is observed when the head and neck (using the earlobe as a reference) are anterior to the shoulder. The neck flexes forward instead of exhibiting a lordotic curve. The head then sits on top of the neck and tries to compensate to see straight so the head is commonly in backward bending. This combination leaves some muscles being overstretched while others become tight.

What causes forward head posture? Prolonged habitual deviations from the upright lead to posture being a lot of work and it shouldn’t be that hard. In today’s world, we are challenged even more than in our past. The everyday habits of the past are still present but in addition smartphones, iPads, tablets, kindles and laptops are being used like never before. Each
device has a smaller screen than a desktop computer or television and is held lower than eye level; the position of the head and neck are adjust accordingly to visualize the screens.

Over time, these devices will affect the kinematic chain from the head, neck and shoulder complex down through the low back. Now there can be systemic imbalances. In addition to faulty postural habits with simple daily tasks, it is important to try and use the appropriate muscles of the neck while exercising. It is common that if a person is doing abdominal exercises
that the more superficial neck muscles over power the important deep neck muscles. Using weights that are too heavy are also a concern. Poor habit allows the creation of stronger imbalances and thus, the neck over time breaks down.

Again, proper posture should be easy as we are stacked over our own base of support. When it becomes hard that is your warning sign that you should pay attention to detail. Correction of the forward head posture can be successful depending
upon if the problems are physiological or anatomical in nature. Many people think it is merely sticking your chest out and holding your head up but there is more. If the problems are anatomical, be patient because the progress may be slow.

Upper Crossed syndrome is identified when faulty upper body posture exists. This was first discussed by Vladamir Janda (physician and physiotherapist) and has been discussed since the 1970s yet today with all of our electronic devices in combination with poor execution of daily habits this syndrome is more prevalent. Typically, the upper trapezius muscle,
the levator scapula, and pectoral minor muscles get tight while the deep neck flexors, lower trap and rhomboids get weak. This pattern if not corrected, will indeed lead to future problems that can include headaches, neck pain, and rotator cuff problems. Improper positioning can even affect cranial nerves and thus your senses may be compromised. So how does one help to reconnect to their normal sensorimotor pattern?

First, the pattern that one has must be identified. It is not uncommon that people stretch out the wrong muscles. It is pertinent to free tight muscles and the fascia around them in specific ways. If the proper tissue is stretched, it is possible that the body’s neuromuscular system will reconnect and stimulate the right muscles. If the tightness and imbalances have been present for some time, once the tight muscles are stretched, the opposite muscles need certain stimulation to facilitate
and strengthen. It cannot be assumed that the proper muscle will work without the right stimulation. Once the proper triggers to the body are integrally tied, the sensorimotor system can rebalance. The body is an amazing! If given the right
stimulus it can flourish. When given mixed signals over and over, inappropriate muscle patterns can take over. Do yourself a favor and get checked today to see what you can do for your body’s well being. Start with your posture because with a strong core and good posture, less breakdown is likely. Call to learn more about what you can do to help yourself!
To Your Health…

Fitness Together
335 14th Ave South
Naples, FL 34102

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