Did you know that your head weighs 10-12 pounds or about the same as a bowling ball?

“For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” ~Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Volume 3.

Forward Head Posture (“FHP”, also referred to as Forward Head Syndrome (FHS) and Forward Head Thrust or Neck Thrust) is present when the ear is anterior of the shoulder rather than sitting directly above it. “Good” posture has the ears aligned the over the shoulders, the shoulders aligned over the iliac crests of the pelvis, the iliac crests over the knees and the knees over the lateral malleoli of the ankles.

Problems can arise from the ground up, but quite frequently, our head and neck posture translates down the spine. Over time we may unconsciously be allowing ourselves to collapse while reading, driving, and computing. These habits “lock short” our sternocleidomastoid and pectoral muscles and contribute to a forward head posture.

Rene Cailliet M.D., former Director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation a the University of Southern California says: “Most attempts to correct posture are directed toward the spine, shoulders and pelvis. All are important, but head position takes precedence over all others. The body follows the head. Therefore the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head.”

Furthermore, Dr. Roger Sperry, a Nobel Laureate for Brain Research demonstrated in the 1980’s that: “90% of the brain’s energy output is used in relating the physical body to gravity. Only 10% has to do with thinking, metabolism, and healing.” This means that walking around in forward head posture prioritizes using the body’s energy resources on gravity-rebalancing which robs us of vital energy for thinking, metabolism and healing.

Back to the bowling ball head: Someone with 2 inches of forward head thrust is adding twenty extra pounds of pressure to the axial spine! This added strain forces the muscles in the shoulders, neck and upper back to work over time to try to “right” the added burden, leading to a plethora of potential pitfalls including tension headaches, increased blood pressure, disc herniation, arthritis, pinched nerves, eye and ear dysfunction, TMJ, fibromyalgia, loss of lung capacity, upper back pain and reduced shoulder mobility (American Journal of Pain Management, 1994; 4: p36-39)

The good news is that this condition can be improved and even reversed. A Certified Yoga Tune Up Fitness® teacher can guide you through a well-balanced mat and Yoga Tune Up Fitness® Therapy Ball practice. Corrective YTU sequencing will reconnect you to your breath via the diaphragm and inner core and would include poses that lengthen the frontal muscles of the neck, chest and shoulder, and strengthen the weak neck and upper back muscles. Targeted Yoga Tune Up Fitness® Therapy Ball work will not only offer much-needed tension relief, but it will increase your proprioception (your body’s sense of itself) and will greatly relieve chronically locked-short shoulder and neck muscles as shown in the video below.

Learn how to take care of your neck.

Learn more about Yoga Tune Up Fitness® Therapy Balls.

In addition, check out Jill’s appearance on Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWod website with a special Levator Scapula Therapy Ball release (aka Neck Gnar Gnar!).

Click here to see the upper back and neck pain relief video on YouTube.

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Did you know that in 2007 The American Chiropractic Association reported that purse-related injuries surged 30%? The average woman’s handbag weighs 5.2 pounds these days and the UK’s Daily Mail reports that the average “Man Bag” weighs almost 13 pounds! That’s like hauling around 5 to12 one-pound bags of sugar. The results are not so sweet Just this morning I observed a Fashion-savvy woman furiously text messaging on the subway. From her texting arm hung a 10-12 pound bag and from the opposite shoulder hung another bag twice as heavy. Her head hung forward about 6 inches, her cervical spine in wickedly deep flexion while her fingers ravenously danced over her Blackberry keyboard.

It’s hard to say which is worse, carrying a huge bag on the elbow joint or carrying on the shoulder since both purse-carries have detrimental effects:

The Arm Bag Carry

The Huge Handbag that hangs off the elbow joint can damage the superficial radial nerves that stretch from the elbow to the hand on the anterior side of the forearm. As we daintily bear the weight on our forearm, our digital flexors and pronator teres become tenderized. Alas, it’s not uncommon for those who’ve never played tennis to suddenly acquire a Tennis Elbow diagnosis as the olecranon bursa and/or the tendon attachments become inflamed.

The Shoulder Bag Carry

The Shoulder Bag Carry is not much improvement: Strapping a giant bag on one shoulder can aggravate tender rotator cuff muscles and degrade the highly susceptible shoulder joint capsule, resulting in pain. Furthermore, this big bag hanging off one side of your body may result in acquired functional spinal curvature as your muscles and spine are forced to counterbalance the weight, creating repetitive stress on the axial skeleton. Again, the result is pain, usually in the back.

So, what’s the fix? Read my post on Friday to find out!

Discover solutions for shoulder pain.