Forward Head Posture and Neck Pain

When it’s not the result of an injury such as a fall, a blow, or whiplash, there’s a very good chance your neck pain is caused by poor posture. One of the most common postural misalignments behind neck pain is a forward head posture.

A forward head posture, in which your head is tilted forward rather than sitting squarely over your upright neck and shoulders, puts a lot of strain on your neck. The muscles and vertebrae have to work a lot harder to support the weight of your head, much like if you were to hold a ten pound weight a few inches away from your body – it’s heavy on its own, and it only gets heavier when the center of gravity is held away from the body. The human head weighs about ten pounds, and at that angle the force it puts on the neck make it numerically much heavier: for every inch forward you shift your head, the relative on your neck weight doubles.

The strain on the neck affects the vertebrae and the discs that cushion them, often leading to the degeneration or misplacement of the discs. It strains the muscles which have to stretch further and bear more weight. It also affects the rest of your posture, since your spine realigns to compensate, rounding the shoulders forward, pulling the upper body backward, and shifting the hips forward. For this reason, the pain that begins in the neck may eventually spread to other areas, most often the shoulders, but other parts of the back as well.

The damaging forward tilt is becoming more and more common as we use electronics, particularly cell phones and computers: they’re often set at a lower angle, in the lap or on a desk, so people lean forward to see. You can use over the counter pain medication and icing to help ease neck pain, but the best method to both treat and prevent it is to adjust your posture. Make a conscious effort when reading, texting, knitting, and so on to bring the object up to face level or close to it; this will allow your to keep your head centered above your neck and spine.


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