What if your health issues are being caused by something as simple as your head posture?
Several studies have found that your posture, especially how you hold your head, could be effecting more than just the health of your neck and spine. The way that you carry your head could be causing you all kinds of health problems.
Think about it – your head is one of the heaviest parts of your body. The average adult human head weighs about 12 pounds.
Now think of a shopping bag with 12 cans of beans in it, and you have an idea of what your head weighs. So it stands to reason that supporting that weight properly is important to your health.
If your head posture is good then its weight will be centered over your body. Your neck, shoulders, spine and thorax will all work together to support the weight of your head. But if your head posture is incorrect then more pressure is placed on specific areas of your body – and that can cause problems.
To make matters worse, every inch that you tilt your head forwards can actually double the pressure of its weight!
Dr Kenneth Hansraj, a New York spine surgeon, performed a study in 2014 to assess the effects of each incremental head shift on our cervical spines. His concern stems from treating many patients whose neck posture is dramatically effected by how much time they spend bent over mobile phones and other electronic devices.
These ailments are commonly called “text neck”, but it’s not only caused by electronics. Anyone who spends a lot of time sitting or standing with Forward Head Posture (FHP) will experience the same side effects.
What Dr. Hansraj found is that the weight exerted on your spine is dramatically increased with every inch that your head is flexed forwards. Every inch of FHP exerts about ten pounds of extra pressure on your spine.
The effects of this added pressure on your health are multiple:
Effects of FHP on your Neck and Spine
FHP (forward head posture) can cause you to lose the natural curve your spine. Losing the curve of your spine will cause you back pain, neck pain and bone degeneration in your spine. It also causes muscle strain, herniated discs and sometimes pinched nerves.
Your spine houses the nerve fibers that run through your entire body. So poor posture of your spine can cause neurological problems throughout your body. This can also cause terrible headaches.
FHP can alter your muscle structure
Having your head constantly tilted forward lengthens the muscles in the base of your neck and shortens the upper chest muscles. One of the effects of this is that you can start to take on a “hunched-back” posture. This hunched-back posture can be very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify, once it becomes pronounced.
Your entire body will become rigid and you will experience decreased mobility. That means it’s harder to move around – a lot like premature aging.
Effects of FHP on your Physical Health
Because you are hunched over when your head is bent forward, your chest is compressed and your internal organs are restricted. You can lose up to 30% of your lung capacity which means you can’t breathe as easily. This causes heart and vascular problems, too.
You can experience constipation because your intestine is squashed up, making it difficult for your body to process waste.
Other physical effects of FHP include a decrease in libido, tension headaches, shoulder, neck and back pain, acid reflux and cardiovascular problems caused by irritation to the vagus nerve.
FHP throws you off balance and increases your risk of falling or injuring yourself.
Effects of FHP on your Emotional Health
It is believed that a FHP and slouching can negatively affect your mood, your self-image and other people’s perception of you. Although it doesn’t strictly come under health effects it is important to note that if you are feeling hopeless, depressed or stressed it can be linked to poor posture.
Looking upwards and opening the upper body area (by pushing your shoulders gently back) can be an instant mood lifter and even improve your memory recall.
Tips and Advice, How to Correct Forward Head Posture
There are a number of things you can do to improve Forward Head Posture. First and foremost you need to be aware of your posture. Whatever you’re doing, where ever you are – be aware of your head and try to do whatever necessary to ensure that your head is straight and centered.
Stand Up More.
One of the problems with modern society that makes it so easy to develop FHP is that we sit in one position for hours at a time. Try to stand up and walk around as often as possible. Even 60 seconds of walking around can be helpful.
You can even try a standing desk, or work at a counter with your computer on an elevated surface (if you’re an office worker). This position puts your work in-line with your head so that you don’t have to look down all the time.
Strengthen your Back and Lengthen your Chest Muscles.
You don’t have to be in the gym to work your muscles. By making your back stronger you can support your head more easily in the correct position. By lengthening out your chest muscles you make sure that cramped muscles aren’t pulling you back into poor posture.
Try standing in a doorway with your hands holding the door frame and lean gently forwards. Do this a couple of times throughout the day and you will quickly start to correct your muscles.
Daily Corrective Exercise Routine
Another thing that can help you is following a simple corrective routine every day. The following exercises can help you put your posture back into alignment and strengthen the right muscles to keep it there.
Placement Correction (Chin reversal)
Sit in front of the mirror and make sure you are sitting straight (but not stiffly). Pull your chin straight back by using your neck muscles. Your ears should be over your shoulders. Keep your eyes and head level throughout the movement. If you struggle you can put your finger on your nose and gently push back until you’re in the position. Hold for five seconds.
Repeat the exercise ten times.
Horizontal Placement Correction
This is a similar exercise to the one above. The horizontal variation helps to restore your neck’s natural curve and decompress your cervical joints.
Lie flat on your back on the floor. Gently bring your chin to your chest, while keeping your head based on the floor (you shouldn’t lift your head). Hold for five seconds and release.
Repeat the exercise ten times.
Another factor that causes FHP is having your shoulders hunched up around your ears. This happens when you sit in a position with your arms up, like when typing or driving. This exercise will help you release your shoulders.
Stand up straight. Drop your shoulders and let your arms hang. Imagine that you are a puppet being held up by a string from the top of your skull. Let your body relax with spine straight.
Now push your shoulders backwards by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make sure that your neck stays soft and your shoulders don’t come up. Hold for five seconds and release.
Repeat the exercise ten times.
See a Chiropractor
If you are worried about your head posture the best thing you can do is visit a chiropractor. Not only will an adjustment put your head in the right place quickly, but the chiropractor will also be able to advise you on the best exercises for your specific needs.
Another great way to improve your posture is to join a yoga class. Yoga can strengthen your muscles, release muscle tension and help you to be more aware of your posture. Make sure to tell your instructor that you want to improve your posture and they will be able to help you.
Improving your head posture can have profound effects on your health and well being – and the best part is you can do it for free! Just by being aware and taking simple action you could change your whole life and save yourself a fortune in medical expenses.
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About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice. Check out her 4 foods to never eat for breakfast video to lose more than 18 lbs in 3 weeks.
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