Signs You May Have Forward Head Posture
Forward head posture is one piece of a whole body posture break down. It’s most obviously seen when a person sits or stands but can also be seen if you’re lying down with a pillow under your head causing the head to be elevated.
What Is Forward Head Posture?
There are two basic types of forward head posture but both show as the opening of the ear is ahead of the base of the neck. See photo below:
Ear opening is anterior or in front of the midpoint of the base of the neck:
Type 1 is seen as the head forward and the chin is dropped below the horizontal plane. This is described as the head being forward and in flexion.
Type 2 is seen as the head forward and the chin is in the horizontal plane. This is described as the head being forward and in extension
Top 3 Signs You May Have Forward Head Posture
The tiny muscles that connect your skull and spine could be hypertonic or overly tight. This plus the misalignment of either the first (atlas) or second (axis) cervical vertebra of the spine will cause a compression of the blood and nerve supply. The body’s reaction is to dilate the blood vessels in the head to increase blow flow. The sensation of this response is a headache.
Problems With Your TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)
Depending on whether the head is in flexion or extension the TMJ must accommodate due to the muscular imbalance in neck, head and jaw. Malocclusion such as an overbite or underbite can occur which is why many orthodontists advise patients to seek realignment of the neck before performing orthodontic work. Direct TMJ problems can also occur and result in clicking or pain with chewing.
The average weight of an adult head is 8 lbs and the forces that apply to the neck from holding the head in a forward position can translate into 30 lbs of abnormal forces into the neck! This kind of force demands the body to react by tightening and constricting muscles and tissues to compensate. The result would be stabbing, throbbing pain, numbness or tingling in arms and hands. In many cases I have found many clients did not realize, until after the examination, that weakness had developed in the neck, shoulder, arms or hands.
Other Significant Effects
The effects of forward head posture can also cause the entire body’s center of gravity to be forward, increasing incidence of falling – something we see in the elderly. Research studies show the connection between the misalignment of the upper neck and high blood pressure. Due to the compression of nerves and reduction of biomechanics, there can be a 30% loss of lung capacity. Slouching wastes more energy, thereby causing you to experience a loss of energy and productivity.
Forward head posture has become more widespread with the escalating use of texting and computer use. It’s a condition that not only affects your health but also how you move and look. The good news is forward head posture, with the right guidance and effort, can be corrected! Check out our articles on exercises and best posture advice.