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Forward Head Posture (FHP) Causes and Correction

illustration showing forward head posture versus neutral head posture

What is Forward Head Posture (FHP)?

Forward head posture (FHP) is the anterior or forward positioning of the cervical spine. This posture is sometimes called “Scholar’s Neck” or “Reading Neck.” Today’s modern culture has seen an increase in the incidence of forward head posture. As we text on our smartphones, tap on our laptops, or type on our desktop computers, we’re unconsciously leaning our heads forward.

The normal adult head weighs around 10-11 pounds. A good example of the how forward head posture effects the muscles of the back of the neck and upper back is to take a 10 pound ball and hold it like the photo on the left above. This is simulating your head when placed in the correct position, above the spine, with a normal curve. You should feel no stress on your forearm. Now position the ball out, such as in the photo on the right above. You should feel the muscles of your forearm begin to get tight and uncomfortable after a few seconds. When the head is brought forward such as the last example the muscles of the back of the neck are forced to work harder and strain to pull the head back over the shoulders. Imagine how your forearm muscles would feel if you had to hold the ball like the photo on the right all day.

For every inch that your head is tilted forward, it adds another 10 pounds to the weight your neck is holding up. So if your head is pushed forward just 3 inches, that’s 30 extra pounds that the muscles of the neck and mid back are having to pull and hold up.

Common Causes of Forward Head Posture

It is a posture problem that is caused by several factors including:

  • Sleeping with the head elevated too high

  • Extended use of computers and cellphones

  • Lack of developed back muscle strength

  • Lack of nutrients such as calcium

Effects of Forward Head Posture

Possible negative effects include the obvious three such as: Neck Pain, tingling and numbness in the arms, and a burning pain between the shoulder blades. Your whole body suffers when your posture is poor. Other health problems associated with FHP include:

  • Tension headaches

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Herniated discs

  • Pinched nerves

Example of Forward Head Posture During Office Work
foot showing where plantar fasciitis is commonly experienced

The Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic Approach

Forward head posture is a fixable problem and is something that we see at the clinic with neck pain suffers every day. Chiropractic adjustments and joint mobilizations of the neck combined with soft tissue therapies such as: Active Release Technique (ART), Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), Dry Needling to muscles that are shortened and over strained aid in relieving the neck pain and other symptoms. Simple Rehabilitation exercises help re-centrate the head above the shoulders and strengthen the muscles of the front of the neck, shoulder blades and mid back. Ergonomic changes can be made to address the daily tole of a desk job.

If you are someone you know is suffering from forward head posture and is not finding relief from prior treatments, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 402-292-1450 or schedule a consultation online. Our clinic is a Preferred Provider for the majority of health insurance companies.

Content written by Dr. Adam Behm, DC, CCSP®

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