Find out what Posture can Cause Neck/Shoulder Pain.

What number one posture can cause neck/shoulder pain and stiffness? Do you know what it is?

Do you have neck pain, headaches, tension and/or muscles that are always tight even after a massage? 

This posture is Forward head posture. Is this you?

1. What is ideal or neutral posture

This is ‘forward head posture’ This posture can cause neck/shoulder pain and stiffness. Imagine you are looking at someone from the side. A line should fall along our feet  knees, hips, shoulders and ears..

From the front our posture should see a level pelvis (hips), level shoulders with our head not tilting. We should see no tilting or twisting of the torso. Our pubic bone should sit over our sternum, which should sit over our nose. All in alignment. CLICK HERE for more detail on what ideal posture is.

2. What causes your head forward head posture

  • Our daily posture looking down at phone, computer, devices, this puts a lot of extra pressure on neck and shoulders.
  • Seated and standing posture.
  • Poor posture and muscle tone.
  • Spinal misalignment.
  • Tight muscles that don’t allow us to comfortably hold our head and neck in neutral posture.

Our head gets heavier as our neck bends forward – find out how much heavier

With constant forward head posture our head starts to get heavier and heavier placing more pressure on our neck.. “In a neutral head position (with the lateral posture line running straight through the earlobes and shoulders, with shoulder blades retracted), the average human head weighs 10-12 pounds (4.5-5.5 Kilograms). Take note on the increase in apparent head weight with the increase in neck flexion.

  • At 15 degrees, the head weighs 27 pounds (12.3 kilograms)
  •  30 degrees, it increases to 40 pounds (18.2 kilograms)
  •  45 degrees, it weighs 49 pounds (22.3 kilograms)
  •  60 degrees, it exerts a force of 60 pounds on the cervical spine. (27.3 kilograms)
  •  90 degrees, the force could not be measured.

The study’s author went on to say that when your head tilts forward, you’re loading the front of the disks [2].” This, in the long run, is not good news.

3. What impact will this have on you long term

  • Spinal decay (7)
  • Chronic pain/headaches
  • Changes to spinal alignment
  • Possible negative effects on nervous system

A study has found that forward head posture is associated with abnormal Autonomic Nervous System function and disturbance of cervical sensorimotor control.  The autonomic nervous system is split into parasympathetic (“rest, digest, reproduce and repair” functions) and sympathetic (which governs all fight or flight responses). Our parasympathetic system needs to be dominant state for our health to be optimal. Not in a sympathetic dominant.. Forward head carriage has a negative effect on our autonomic nervous system. (1)

Good head alignment is ideal for our nervous system balance. 

4. How can you help this problem

  • Improve  desk ergonomics at work 
  • Reduce time spent on technology and maintain neutral posture
  • Maintain ideal posture when relaxing/having down time at home
  • Increase spinal movement to areas that are restricted. See your chiropractor or osteopath
  • Exercising increases spinal core strength and stability
  • Stretching muscles. will help to maintain spinal flexibility

Find out more how posture can impact stress levels CLICK HERE.

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1.Ibrahim M Moustafa, Ahmed Youssef, Amal Ahbouch, May Tamim, Deed E. Harrison (2020), “Is forward head posture relevant to autonomic nervous system function and cervical sensorimotor control? Cross sectional study, Gait and amp: Posture (2020), doi: retrieved 16 Jan 2020

2.Staff Writer, (2016), “Stress on the spine: the downside of prolific social media use,” Australian Spinal Research Foundation,

3. Haavik H, and Murphy B (2011), “Subclinical Neck Pain and the Effects of Cervical Manipulation on Elbow Joint Position Sense,” JMPT Vol 34, Iss 2, Feb 2011, pp. 88-97,

4. Daligadu J, Haavik H, Yielder P, Baarbe J, and Murphy B (2013), “Alterations in Cortical and Cerebellar Motor Processing in Subclinical Neck Pain Patients Following Spinal Manipulation,” JMPT Vol 36, Iss 8, October 2013 pp. 527-537,

5. Baarbe J, Holmes M, Murphy H, Haavik H, Murphy B (2016), “Influence of Subclinical Neck Pain on the Ability to Perform a Mental Rotation Task: A 4-week Longitudinal Study with a Healthy Control Group Comparison,” JMPT Vol. 39, Iss. 1, Jan 2016 pp. 23-30,

6. Farid B, Yielder P, Holmes M, Haavik H, and Murphy B (2018), “Association of Subclinical Neck Pain With Altered Multisensory Integration at Baseline and 4-Week Follow-up Relative to Asymptomatic Controls,” JMPT Vol. 41 Number 2. Feb 2018pp. 81-91