What do you notice when you look around at other drivers as you commute to work? They are often hunched forward with their shoulders up, almost leaning over their steering wheel, with their head forward in front of their body.
We call this type of posture ‘forward head posture’ or ‘anterior head carriage’ and this posture can be damaging to your health. With proper posture, looking at someone from the side, ears should be aligned with the shoulders. With forward head posture, your head is much further ahead than it is designed to be.
Did you know that for every inch that your head sits forward, your head acts like it weighs a whopping 10 pounds heavier!
It is like holding a bowling ball out in front of you throughout the day, think about how tired your arms would get? Now think about your neck muscles holding out this extra weight!
Anterior head carriage or forward head posture can lead to:
- nerve compression leading to numbness and tingling down the arms.
- shoulder problems such as anterior impingement (pain in the front of the shoulder) or rotator cuff strain.
- reduced range of motion in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- up to 30% reduced breathing capacity.
- memory, focus, concentration, and behaviour issues.
- increased risk of blood pressure issues and heart disease.
- poor digestion.
A simple exercise called a ‘neck retraction’ (or chin tuck) can help reverse anterior head carriage:
- bring your chin down and back slightly, so that your head moves back over your shoulders.
- hold for 5-10 seconds and release.
- repeat this exercise 3-5 times during your day, especially if you are involved in head forward tasks (drive, texting, phone, computer, etc).
This exercise can be done while sitting in your car using the headrest, at your desk using the back of your chair, or while lying flat on your bed. Tuck your chin and push your head gently back against resistance (headrest, chair, or bed). You will create a ‘double chin’ when you are doing it right, but don’t worry, the double chin won’t last but the positive benefits will!
In order to increase the resistance and build more strength you can also do neck retractions with a resistance band:
- Stand up straight in proper posture.
- Place resistance band behind your head, holding onto the band with both hands.
- Retract your head so your ears are aligned over your shoulders.
- Keep your eyes parallel with the ground.
- Retract your head back and hold for 10 seconds.
- Repeat 3-5 repetitions.
Spend the next while doing this exercise daily and begin to reverse this negative posture. If you are struggling with this exercise or concerned about your forward head posture and the impact it is having on your health, don’t hesitate to give the office a call.