What You Need To Know About Treating Forward Head Posture
If you're like 66-90% of the population, you probably suffer from forward head posture (FHP). As you may have guessed, this condition occurs when your head juts forward and is probably the most common cause of neck and shoulder pain as well as headaches. There are treatments available, but it's important to understand the significance of how this condition can impact your life if you let it go too long. Here's what you need to know in order to get the neck and head treatment you need.
How do you know if you have FHP?
If you don't know whether you have FHP, have someone take a snapshot of your profile while working at your desk or while standing in a normal position. If your ear is diagonal from your shoulder, that's a surefire sign you're afflicted. Another way to test is by standing against a wall with your buttocks and shoulders touching the wall. If the back of your head does not touch the wall, this is another sign.
There are other symptoms that go along with forward head posture, and most people actually notice those symptoms before they realize their head and neck are not aligned. But some people are aware of the fact that they slouch their head and often work to correct it.
What causes forward head posture?
There seems to have been a surge in this problem with the development of technology, and you'll see why when you examine the most common known causes:
- Excessively staring down at a cell phone or tablet
- Looking down when using a computer or when reading a book
- Incorrect posture when sitting (round shoulders, hunched back)
- Letting your head fall forward when driving
- Carrying satchels on a single shoulder or on both shoulders with the weight unevenly distributed
"Text neck" is another condition that's on the rise due to so many people using their phones for play and for work. Plus, you've got the added factor of holding the phone or tablet that puts additional strain on your back and shoulders.
What happens if you don't treat FHP?
Letting this condition go can lead to pain, tension headaches, even trouble seeing or hearing. And consider this: every inch your head moves forward places an additional ten pounds of extra weight on your neck and shoulder muscles. So it's not hard to see how much damage can occur.
In fact, ignoring this problem can cause your spine to come out of alignment, and can even reduce your lung capacity by 30%. Over time, sufferers may experience Upper Thoracic Hump from the compression on the thoracic vertebrae. You may also have pain in your chest muscles, TMJ problems, trouble sleeping, and chronic aches and pains.
Should you try exercises at home first?
If you're suffering with symptoms of FHP, the first step is to correct the problem by using electronics for shorter lengths of time, making sure your computer screen is eye level, and working to square your shoulders and straighten your neck when sitting or driving. But there are exercises you can try at home as well, such as chin tucks, chin to chest stretches, head raises, and shoulder stretches. A quick internet search will reveal dozens of exercises to try. However, it's best to consult with your doctor or a chiropractor before beginning any exercise routine in order to avoid injury.
How can a chiropractor help?
A chiropractor is an excellent resource for those who suffer with forward head posture. First off, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis so you can pursue the right kind of treatment regimen.
Secondly, a chiropractor specializes in treating spinal health problems. They can take x-rays to determine if your spine has been affected, and they can order massage therapy if needed.
A qualified chiropractor can not only give you exercises to do at home, but they can also perform repeated spinal adjustments that are designed to relieve pain and help you hold your head, neck, and shoulders in the correct position.
Seeing a chiropractor is truly the first place to start if you think you have FHP.