The effects of posture on health is becoming more evident. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture. The corollary of these observations is that many symptoms, including pain, may be moderated or eliminated by improved posture.
One of the most common postural problems is the forward head posture (FHP). Since we live in a forward facing world, the repetitive use of computers, TV, video games, trauma and even backpacks have forced the body to adapt to a forward head posture. Repetitive movement in a certain direction will strengthen nerve and muscle pathways to move that way more readily. An example would be the adaptation of the body to do gymnastics easily after repetitive practice. It is the repetition of forward head movements combined with poor ergonomic postures and/or trauma that causes the body to adapt to a forward head posture.
Ideally, the head should sit directly on the neck and shoulders, like a golf ball sits on a tee. The weight of the heads more like a bowling ball than a golf ball, so holding it forward, out of alignment, puts a strain on your neck and upper back muscles. The result can be muscle fatigue and, all too often, an aching neck. Because the neck and shoulders have to carry this weight all day in an isometric contraction, this causes neck muscles to lose blood, get damaged, fatigue, strain, cause pain, burning and fibromyalgia. When spinal tissues are subject to a significant load for a sustained period of time, they deform and undergo remodeling changes that could become permanent. This is why it takes time to correct FHP. In addition, FHP has been shown to flatten the neck curve, resulting in disc compression, damage and early arthritis. This abnormal position is also responsible for many tension headaches, often earned cervicogenic headaches.
According to Renee Calliet, M.D., if the head weighs 10 lbs and the center of the ear sits directly over the center of the shoulder, the load on the spine and its tissue is only 10 lbs. However, if the head is translated forward, its weight will increase by 10 lbs. for every inch forward it is. In effect, if the center of the ear is three inches forward from the center of the shoulders, the weight of the head on the spine and its discs, joints and nerves is 30 lbs!!