Abnormal Stress and Strain: Forward Head Posture
- Created: Monday, 11 July 2011 09:56
- Written by Dr. Michael Bennese
The average weight of the human head is around 10 lbs. The head is connected to the rest of the body by a flexible set of interconnected bones, called the spine, specifically, in this case, the cervical spine, which we will call "the neck". This vital link between your skull, and what is contained inside, "your brain" and the rest of your body is via the spinal cord that travels down the center of the neck bones – it is literally your lifeline. Any challenges to the spinal cord are serious, and should be addressed immediately.
The most common form of stress affecting the head and neck, and therefore, the cervical spinal cord, is forward head posture. What this means is, the head is displaced from the center of gravity over time, so that it is forward of it's ideal position. This means the muscles, ligaments and joints are under excess stress and strain because they must work extra hard to support the head and neck. In fact, for every inch forward from the normal position your head is displaced, the effective weight of your head increases dramatically. Think of holding a half gallon of milk by the handle, close to you, versus out at arms length...the effect of the load is dramatically different on your shoulder muscles! The constant excessive stress on the bones, muscles, ligaments and joints of your neck due to forward head posture will produce challenges to the way your neck moves, as well as the way your spinal cord functions to communicate with the rest of your body.
Due to the fact that most people use computers, watch television in less than optimal positions, and read in bed in poor positions, forward head posture is very common! The abnormal stress this posture puts on your head, neck and spinal cord is responsible for a number of common problems ranging from muscle tension headaches (due to the extra work the muscles have to do to support the head and neck), disc degeneration, disc bulging or even disc herniations or ruptures in extreme cases. The fact is, in every case, forward head posture should be corrected or improved to minimize any problems in the head and neck and avoid any future complications.
A complete postural assessment will reveal the source of abnormal stress and strain on the neck, and the rest of the body. Often, radiographs, commonly called x-rays are taken to accurately measure the exact position of the head, neck and spinal bones relative to normal. Once this assessment is complete, the appropriate course of action can be pursued. This will often include a modification of common activities, changing your driving, sleeping, computer positions etc. as well as specific exercises, and techniques to rebuild your posture towards the normal, strong and healthy position.
It is essential that each and every person take good care of their body to fully embrace life and all that is possible. Head and neck posture that is as near normal as possible will insure the function of your muscles, bones and joints is as good as it can be. The possibilities are endless when you have your health and optimum function. If you look in the mirror, and your ear is in front of your shoulder, or you see forward head posture in any of your friends, colleagues or loved ones, be sure to tell them they must have this abnormal position addressed as soon as possible. The best possible treatment is prevention, so getting to the cause of forward head posture makes good sense. For more information feel free to contact me at 717-732-2222. If I am unavailable, leave a few good times for us to connect.