One of the most common forms of ‘poor posture’ is forward head carriage. This occurs when the head has migrated forward, sometimes several inches from the top of the shoulder. It is it’s own epidemic, and probably one of the most frequent things I see. You may find yourself wondering: If it’s so common is it really that big of a deal? The answer is YES.
When the head is in forward posture it can add more than 30 pounds of abnormal pressure on the cervical spine, which can pull the entire spine out of alignment. It’s a big deal. Not only do neck muscles become weak, tight, and over stretched, but it overloads cervical spinal joints and can lead to premature degenerative joint disease (DJD), which is a form of arthritis.
Not only this, but forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of as much as 30% of vital lung capacity. These breath-related effects are primarily due to the loss of the natural cervical curve, which blocks the action of the hyoid muscles. The hyoid muscles are responsible for helping to lift the first rib during inspiration. Proper rib lifting by the hyoid muscles and the anterior scalenes is essential for complete aeration of the lungs.
Not only that, but the entire gastrointestinal system- in particular, the large intestine- can become agitated from FHP. This can result in sluggish bowels and difficulty with elimination. Something I often say is that form precedes function, and what I mean by this is that if our body is not in proper alignment (or form) due to subluxations, then we can’t function optimally. Proper function depends on adequate firing of nerves in the cervical spine.
Rene Calliet, a spine researcher, states that “Most attempts to correct posture are directed toward the spine, shoulders and pelvis. All are IMPORTANT, but head position takes precedence over all others. The body follows the head. Therefore, the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head.”
I have been known to tell my practice members that I am in the business of making sure your head is on straight- and I mean it. I have built a career on this, because of its immense impact on overall health, at every level.
So what can you do about Forward Head Posture? A great first step is seeing your chiropractor. Subluxations are the number one leading cause of FHP, and the correction of them will help to restore proper head positioning, and improve your health across the board. Of course there are exercises and ergonomic changes that can also support this process, and your chiropractor can educate you on those as well.