What is Forward Head Posture?

In the picture shown right, the first image represents “perfect” head posture. A line dropped from the center of the external auditory meatus (EAM) would land directly in the center of the shoulder.

For every inch your head moves “forwards”, the head “gains” 10 pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your upper back and neck are concerned, as they have to work harder to keep the head (chin) from dropping forwards onto your chest. This forces the muscles that raise the chin to remain in constant contraction, putting pressure on nerves, stressing the spinal muscles and joints and often resulting in headaches, TMJ problems and more.

What are the consequences of forward head posture?

  1. Long term forward head posture (FHP) leads to long term muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves (Mayo Clinic Health, March 2000).
  2. Decreased respiratory muscle strength and dysfunction in chronic neck pain patients has strong correlation in patients with FHP (Cephalgia, February 2009).
  3. “Every inch of FHP, increases the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”  (Kapandji, Phys of Joints Vol. 3).
  4. “Loss of cervical curve stretches the spinal cord by 5-7cm and causes disease.” (Dr. Alf Breig, Neurosurgeon and Nobel Prize Recipient).
  5. “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine,” says Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize Recipient for brain research. He demonstrated that 90% of energy output of brain is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Additionally, Dr. Sperry demonstrated that 90% of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body to gravity.  Only 10% has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing, so when you have forward head posture your brain will rob energy from your thinking, metabolism, and immune function to deal with abnormal gravity/posture relationships and processing.
  6. Dr. Rene Calliet, MD, Director of the Dept. of Physical Medicine and Rehab at University of Southern California, FHP can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.  This can pull the entire spine out of alignment. FHP results in the loss of vital capacity of the lungs by as much as 30 %. This shortness of breath can lead to heart and blood vascular disease.  The entire gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel function and evacuation is lost in FHP. It causes an increase in discomfort and pain, because proprioceptive signals fromthe first four cervical vertebrae are a major source of the stimuli which create the body’s pain controlling chemicals(endorphins). With inadequate endorphin production, many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain. FHP dramatically reduces endorphin production.
  7. FHP has been shown to flatten the normal neck curve, resulting in disc compression, damage, early arthritis, decreased quality of life and a shortened life span.
  8. Forward head posture is a silent progression that can lead to irreversible damage.

Help your self and other by assessing each other’s posture. Simply look at them from the side and see if the middle of their ear lines up with the middle of their shoulder. If it does, congratulations, that’s awesome. You are on your way to better health. If it doesn’t line up, then call us to schedule a Chiropractic spinal checkup.