You’ve probably lost count of how many times you corrected a hunched back in your lifetime.
However, if you recall a few moments, there is a high probability you were staring at the computer or writing a message on your mobile.
We tend to adopt a forward head posture in these cases, and it’s hard to fix because we often don’t realize.
Fortunately from my experience, it’s relatively easy to fix with these recommendations below.
What It Is?
Forward head posture is a habitual neck posture people often adopt when using media devices, including smartphones and laptops.
Since we all use them to a certain degree, it is important to be aware of how to detect this abnormal posture.
It looks like a slight hunch mainly located on the upper back and the neck.
The head protrudes forward and the muscles slowly adopt a new pattern, becoming elongated or weakened in time.
Forward head posture has many consequences. We’ve listed a few:
Weakened and tense muscles
When this abnormal position is held for a very long time, the muscles of the neck become either too tense or weakened.
This is the reason the problem gets worse over time, and the symptoms gradually become more severe.
Back and neck pain
Forward head posture is associated with significant neck pain.
Patients who maintain this posture for hours and change their muscle tone develop muscle spasms, and may even report recurrent headaches.
Your muscles and cervical vertebrae may become affected.
This, in turn, causes spinal misalignments and other problems associated, such as back pain, restricted breathing, tingling, or numbness in the arms, among others.
Patients with ‘forward head posture’ adopt a lower cervical flexion and an upper cervical extension.
These muscles will become very tight:
- Anterior scalene muscles.
- Posterior cervical muscles.
These muscles become weak and remain inactive when they shouldn’t:
- Lower cervical extensor muscles.
- Deep neck flexor muscles.
How To Fix It
There are different ways to fix forward head posture, depending on the severity of your condition.
You might see significant differences with exercises, neck traction devices, or a few recommendations/habit changes in your work and day-to-day activities.
You can try these exercises to correct forward neck posture:
Neck Release Exercise
For this exercise, you need a massage ball, but applying pressure with your fingers will have a similar effect.
- Place the massage ball at the back of the neck and rotate your head against the massage ball.
- Emphasize in areas where you detect a trigger point or a painful area.
- Cover the whole area of the base of the neck and the base of the skull for up to 3 minutes on each side.
Chin Tuck Exercise
This is a great exercise to strengthen the muscles in front of your neck, plus It is easy to do.
- Place your fingers on your chin and tuck it in, pressing and retracting your head to the back.
- Hold this position for up to 5 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times for 2 or 3 sets.
Forward Neck Stretch
This stretch is excellent to relax tense muscles in your neck.
- Start by tucking in your chin as much as possible.
- You can place both fingers on your chin, similar to the chin tuck exercise, but this time ook down.
- Place one hand behind your head and pull down your head gently for 30 seconds.
- Release and repeat 3 times.
Side Neck Stretch
This is a gentle stretch to extend and relax your sternocleidomastoid muscle.
- After tucking in your chin, place on hand on one side of your head and rotate your head gently.
- As you perform the side movement, tilt your head until you feel a subtle stretch.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
This is an excellent stretch for your shoulders and chest muscles.
- Locate a doorway and place your hands and elbows in line.
- Step ahead going through the door until feeling a gentle stretch.
- Maintain this position for up to 30 seconds
- Repeat the same stretch 2 or 3 times.
As the name implies, this exercise stretches your shoulders and strengthens your mid-back muscles.
- Sit on a chair, tuck your chin, and raise your chest.
- When your spine is in a neutral position, place your arms to your sides and rotate them externally, bringing them back as much as possible.
- Maintain the stretch for 10 seconds and then release.
- You can repeat the same exercise 2 or 3 times.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
This is a sideways stretch for your upper trapezius and scalene muscles. You can perform the exercise sitting or standing.
- Start by placing one of your hands on the opposite side of the head.
- Gently lean your head to the side, directed to the shoulder, and press down your neck.
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Neck Traction Devices
In more severe cases, stretch exercises may not be enough. Sometimes neck traction devices can do the trick.
These devices are an alternative treatment, specially designed for neck pain.
It stretches the neck and separates the vertebrae gently. For this reason, it is a type of decompression therapy focused on the neck.
Types Of Cervical Traction
There are different types of cervical traction:
Manual cervical traction
This should be performed by a health professional, who will pull your neck with his hands and hold the position for a while, making adjustments according to you.
Mechanical cervical traction
This should also be done by a physical therapist, they will use a harness that is locked in your head and neck, applying a pulling force away from your spine.
Over-the-door cervical traction
This type of cervical traction is created to be applied at home by the patient and without further assistance.
There are many types, and most of them use ropes or straps connected to a pulley system that you locate on a doorframe.
Cervical traction devices reduce muscle tension in the neck and increase the available space between vertebrae.
As such, it is a great remedy for neck pain that may improve stiffness and increase flexibility.
It is very useful in people with herniated discs but should be evaluated by a doctor if you have an underlying health condition.
This is a very useful home cervical traction system you can use anywhere, without hanging straps on the wall or your doorframe.
It is adjustable in different angles of inclination, and after placing yourself comfortably on the cushioned pad, you can proceed to decompress your cervical spine with a specialized pumping device.
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This is a must-have if you have already tried cervical traction devices before and want a similar approach that is also portable and resistant.
It’s a hammock where you can place your head comfortably to relax your neck muscles.
Proper Sitting Posture
Another important aspect to fix forward head posture is sitting appropriately. First, be sure to avoid these posture problems:
- Sitting with your knees or arms crossed.
- Slumping to one side with a bent spine.
- Keeping the same position for a very long time.
- Sitting for a very long time without breaks.
- Protruding the neck forward.
- Sitting without lower back support.
Instead, consider these quick steps to start adopting a proper sitting posture:
- Sit back straight and pull back your shoulders.
- Maintain your head and neck upright, aligning your ears with the shoulders.
- Be aware of how your weight is distributed. Avoid leaning to your sides.
- Keep your knees at a 90º angle with your feet flat on the floor.
- Take a break after 30 minutes sitting.
It is also important to have an ergonomic workstation if you constantly work in front of the screen or laptop. What can you modify in your current workstation?
Ergonomic chairs may look similar to a regular chair, but they have a few distinct aspects, especially the back support.
These chairs are designed to fit your spine and allow you to rest your back without misalignments.
Raising your monitor is important to avoid unconscious hunching or leaning forward to see the computer screen.
Ideally, monitors should be aligned to the height of your head, and there are many devices you can use for this purpose.
Placing the keyboard in a tray does not only help you achieve a better posture.
It also reduces the dangers of carpal tunnel syndrome and other problems associated with prolonged sitting.
An important aspect of a fully ergonomic workstation is having some sort of lumbar support.
This is essential to maintain proper alignment of the lower back and may significantly reduce pain symptoms.
Proper Standing Posture
Sitting appropriately is only the start of a few postural changes we should adopt.
Standing properly is just as important, because you may adopt a forward head posture while standing, even if you’re not using a mobile device.
Make sure your standing posture is appropriate by checking in with these recommendations:
- Face straight ahead, avoiding leaning your head forward or looking down.
- Your shoulders should be aligned, without curling forward.
- Tuck your stomach and avoid rolling forward your pelvis.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width, tips pointing outward.
- Be aware of your weight distribution and do not lean on one side.
- Shift weight or rock from heel to toes if you’re standing for a long period
Watch Mobile Phone Posture
Similarly, there’s a correct posture to adopt when you watch your phone, and this one is often missed and overlooked by most.
What do you need to keep in mind?
- Raise your phone to the level of your head to avoid tilting forward.
- Try to take breaks from using your mobile devices. Set up alarms and reminders if necessary.
- Stand up properly, as pointed out above.
- If you’re texting for a long period, periodically arch and stretch your neck and back muscles.
Finally, we are also giving you a few tips and instructions regarding sleeping posture.
A healthy sleeping posture is fundamental and may improve or aggravate forward head posture. It is also necessary to consider if you’re a snorer or have sleep apnea.
The ideal position
Ideally, you should lay on your stomach to sleep if you have forward head posture problems.
This opens your airways and is a natural way to tuck your chin. You can also rotate your head to either side to alleviate tension in the neck.
Place a pillow under your pelvis
Placing a pillow under your pelvis is a great way to relieve pressure upon your back.
It aligns your spine and reduces back tension, which may reflect on your neck posture and back pain symptoms.
Use an orthopedic pillow (That is thin)
Flat pillows reduce the angle between your neck and your head.
Here are a few recommendations you can try:
This hypoallergenic latex pillow is a good option if you don’t want to sleep over chemicals and synthetic material.
It is soft medium, so it’s quite firm and won’t go completely flat.
The pillow itself is very comfortable without the memory foam, and it is said to maintain its shape for over 5 years.
The Organic Natural Latex Pillow is also made with a breathable material to allow for airflow and prevent the buildup of moisture.
If you’re looking for a pillow that adopts the form of your neck and head, this is an interesting pick you might want to consider.
It is a firm pillow and using it may feel awkward at first because it’s a corrective pillow that your body needs to adapt to. However, users report that it’s still incredibly comfortable.
It’s also non-allergenic, non-toxic, and comes in many shapes to accommodate different types of users.