Many people are horrified when they see a side-on photo of themselves. They quickly notice how far their head juts forward. This is called forward head posture, and it has become extremely common due to desk work. Instead of your head sitting on top of your shoulders, your head protrudes out in front of the rest of the body. Consider the picture series below.
Your head weighs 5 kilograms, but the effective weight grows exponentially according to the severity of forward head posture. Consider how the bowling ball can be easily held in one hand close to your body. However, if you attempt to hold the same bowling ball at arm’s length, it feels far heavier. This is due to the physics of lever arm mechanics.
The same principle applies to your head when it protrudes forward. For every centimetre your head juts forward, it becomes approximately two kilograms heavier. Depending on the severity of your forward head posture, your neck could be supporting extra weight of as much as 13 kilograms. This is why your neck muscles are so tight and sore and may be the sole cause of persistent neck pain: in short, your neck muscles are straining to hold up the extra weight of your head. This is a very common pattern; the symptoms feel muscular, but the underlying cause is spinal.
Correct neck posture
Treatment to eliminate this posture typically involves upper back adjustments to correct hunched posture, neck adjustments where appropriate, stretches of tight muscles that produce hunching, and strengthening of weak postural muscles. We can remove the strain on muscles and joints by restoring normal alignment of the head and neck.
Beat ‘tech neck’ with a healthy desk setup
Making changes to your workplace set up can also avoid harmful postures. This includes adjusting your computer monitor so that it is at eye level, using a headset or speakerphone to avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder, and taking regular breaks to stretch and move around.
Even if you’re busy, be mindful of how much time you are spending sitting at your desk. If you spend all day typing on a laptop or tablet, consider investing in an external keyboard and mouse for an improved posture and greater comfort. A standing desk could also prove to be a valuable option. Additionally, if you feel yourself starting to hunch over more than usual, pause every few minutes to maintain good posture and check in with how you are feeling physically and mentally. Taking small steps each day can lead to better health for both your body and mind.
Please note that this information is for general education. It may not be relevant to you and your condition and cannot replace a consultation with a chiropractor or other healthcare practitioner. To book a consult at our Caringbah clinic, simply use the booking button below or contact us for more information.
Scott Leabeater is The Backstory Chiropractic’s Principal Chiropractor. Scott uses up to date research literature to guide an evidence based approach to diagnosis and treatment. His unique professionalism and knowledge has made Scott highly sought after. Throughout his career he has treated everyone from local office workers to Olympic athletes. Scott is an AHPRA registered Chiropractor and member of Chiropractic Australia.