Is poor Posture causing your NECK pain?

In this blog we are looking at the posture that is most commonly associated with neck/shoulder tension. We are going to explain why to avoid this posture and how important it is to the health of your spine and overall health.

Posture to avoid:

When the head is sitting over the shoulders, this neutral posture is ideal and prevents undue stress on the neck. When the posture is such that the head is sitting in front of the shoulders, forward head posture (FHP), then this posture creates unnecessary strain on the neck and shoulders.

Times people find themselves in this FHP:

There are many times of the day when we are busy at home or work and don’t realise we are in a FHP. Such times include:

  • Using hand held electronic devices, such as iPads or phones
  • Reading a book
  • On a laptop or computer that is not ergonomically set up
  • Cooking or preparing foods

How to help yourself:

The first thing is to understand that FHP is a major contributor to neck and shoulder tension. Pin pointing times in your day where you may fall into the FHP trap. Try the following:

  • Create breaks during times of phone, laptop or computer uses
  • Alternate activities in your day, to give yourself a break from those times where there’s FHP
  • Go for walks, exercise the mid back and stretch the front of your chest regular

Research: Altered posture can effect overall health

When poor posture is maintained for long periods of time, the actual shape of the spine can alter and create a deformity. One study (1) has shown the burden on the quality of life with those suffering with adult spinal changes, such as scoliosis, increased kyphosis and fixed FHP. The impact was compared to chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How FHP impacts the neck;

When the neck sits in front of the shoulder with FHP, the weight of the head, over time adds strain to the lower neck and upper back. It’s similar to holding a bowling ball for prolonged time out in front of you with straight arms. You can imagine the strain on your shoulders and arms after a while. The following areas can be stressed and strained;

  • Muscles
  • Facet joints
  • Nerves
  • Discs
  • Ligaments
  • Curves

Can stubborn FHP be helped?

If you find that you have tried to improve your posture, exercise and minimise the times fo the day where you’re in a FHP and the neck/shoulder tension and pain persists, then consider seeking help from a musculoskeletal expert. They may find and improve joint movement, muscle tension and altered neck curves and give some relief to the symptoms as they improve the FHP.

Lisa Smycz, chiropractor 

If you would like to know more about what ideal posture looks like, then CLICK HERE.  To find out if you can pass the phone posture test CLICK HERE.

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(1.) Eur Spine J 2015 Jan;(1):3-11 Pellise et al Impact on health related quality of life of adult spinal deformity (ASD) compared with other chronic conditions.