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