Rebecca Nicholas, chiropractor at Back 2 Balance in Brighton and Hove, describes a common phenomenon- forward head posture or ‘text neck’s as it’s commonly known. Neck pain can be caused by many many reasons, and often starting from something innocuous and seemingly trivial e.g sleeping funny or turning sharply. Below, Rebecca describes a type of repetitive strain injury that results from having your head in a poor position for too long, each and every day.

Forward head posture (FHP) or anterior head carriage (AHC) in the chiropractic world, is very common, but not healthy!

forward head postureThings like:

  • Looking down while typing or reading
  • Sitting improperly with shoulders rounded and back hunched
  • Driving with your head more than 2 to 3 inches away from the headrest
  • Carrying a backpack or heavy handbag slung over one shoulder

Having your head too far forward over your shoulder does not always ‘look’ ugly, it also places a huge amount of extra ‘relative weight’ on your shoulder and muscles that hold your head on top of your shoulders.

According to Kapandji (Physiology of the Joints, Volume III), for every inch your head moves forwards, it gains 10 pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your upper back and neck are concerned, because they have to work that much harder to keep the head (chin) from dropping onto your chest! This also forces the suboccipital muscles (they raise the chin, and are located at the back of the head where the skull joins the neck) to remain in constant contraction, putting pressure on the 3 Suboccipital nerves. This nerve compression may cause headaches at the base of the skull. Pressure on the suboccipital nerves can also mimic sinus (frontal) headaches.

Rene Cailliet M.D., famous medical author and former director of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Southern California states:
“Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment. Forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity. These breath-related effects are primarily due to the loss of the cervical lordosis, which blocks the action of the hyoid muscles, especially the inferior hyoid responsible for helping lift the first rib during inhalation.”

Persistent forward head posture puts compressive loads upon the upper thoracic vertebra, and is also associated with the development of Upper Thoracic Hump, which can devolve into Dowager Hump when the vertebra develop compression fractures (anterior wedging). A recent study found this hyperkyphotic posture was associated with a 1.44 greater rate of mortality.

It’s not uncommon to observe 2″ of anterior head placement in new clients. Would you be surprised that your neck and shoulders hurt if you had a 20-pound watermelon hanging around your neck? Left uncorrected, FHP will continue to decline. Chiropractic can be very corrective in reversing the joint fixations and in re-invigorating the muscles that normally retract the head.

Anterior head carriage can give you many disabling symptoms inc:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Jaw problems
  • Tension in shoulders
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms and/or hands

This Halloween, why not take the first step towards treating your body, and not tricking it with pain medications.

Book in with one of our chiropractors today!

If you are one of our clients, ask for our ‘offer of the month’ and get a Halloween voucher to pass on to friends and loved ones.