You hear from an early age to keep proper posture. The impact posture has on your health is very clear. Poor posture can cause spinal pain, headaches, mood changes, blood pressure, even your pulse and your lung capacity could leave you looking for a back pain doctor. Simply improving your posture may reduce or ultimately eliminate many of your symptoms.
There are many factors in today’s lives that encourage poor posture. Computers, phones, TV, video games, and backpacks all cause people to use a “forward head posture”. When you hold your head forward you overwork and strain your neck and upper back muscles. Spending a lot of time in forward head posture can cause muscle fatigue and neck pain caused by continuous isometric contraction. Your neck muscles will suffer from less circulation which causes burning pain. Forward head posture can even damage your spinal tissues by causing them to deform and change. Long term forward head posture can create permanent changes to your spine causing frequent visits to the back pain doctor.
FHP can change or even reverse your normal neck curve, which can cause disc compression, tension headaches, and it could even cause early arthritis. In addition to those problems, FHP could leave you with TMJ, a painful disorder on its own. If you have forward head posture you should have it immediately checked by a chiropractor. You will not be able to get help from a medical doctor. Even if you’re not feeling any symptoms yet, they rarely present themselves early. Long term FHP will cause spine and nerve damage.
How to Detect FHP
To determine if you have FHP there are a few things you can look at. Stand in front of a mirror and from a side view, your ear should line up with the top of your shoulder. If it doesn’t, or you’re already experiencing symptoms, call your back pain doctor to schedule an appointment.
Common Causes of FHP
Computers often encourage poor posture. If your monitor is too low you will need to strain forward to comfortably view the screen. Coupled with repeatedly moving your head to read up and down the screen, this makes your computer ergonomics very important when combating FHP. Raise your monitors up higher so that your head is level when you’re looking at them to read. Use a desk chair that can adjust to the right position and then lock to discourage slouching.
Watching television or playing video games is another contributor to poor posture. When you sit on a couch for long periods playing video games or watching television you don’t get the back support you need for good posture. Consistently sitting in one position for longer periods of time can cause your body to adapt to the poor posture easier. Try sitting in a desk chair or other seat that has strong back support and encourages proper posture to combat this.
Heavily loaded backpacks will naturally push your head forward to counterbalance the weight. This causes extra stress on your nerves, discs and joints. Try not to overload your backpacks to prevent your body from using your head as a counterweight.
Trauma such as falls and car accidents can create a muscle imbalance that pulls your spine out of alignment. Visit your back pain doctor to get treatments for your injury and keep your spine properly aligned.
Smart Phones are a strong contributor to FHP. Most people look down at their phone resting their arms. This pulls your head forward and strains your neck muscles. Instead of holding the phone down, hold it up in a more neutral position. Your arms might get a little tired but your proper posture will be worth it.
Solutions for FHP
1. The First step in correcting your FHP is to have a chiropractor examine and x-ray your back to measure your FHP. Once they’ve gotten the exact measurements they can develop a treatment program for your FHP. This will include specific exercises and adjustments. Ask your chiropractor to point out any improvements to your ergonomics situations to discourage FHP.
2. There are exercises you can do when you’re sitting in one position for a long period. Every 20-30 minutes sit up straight and pull your neck and head over your shoulders. Hold while counting to 3. Do 15-20 reps of this. Another exercise you can do is to stand against a wall with a small pillow in the middle of your back and move your head back to touch the wall. Hold that position for another count of 3 and do 20-25 reps.
3. Always use a pillow to support your back when you’re sitting or driving. Keeping support on your lower back will naturally move your head and neck back over your shoulders.
4. Never wear your backpack over one of your shoulders. Try to keep your children’s backpacks at 15% of their weight. Whenever possible choose backpacks that have a waist and chest belt. This will neutralize the load and keep your head from moving forward to compensate.
5. When you’re at home lay face down on the floor. When you’re laying on the floor extend your head and shoulders up and pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold this for another count to 3 for 15-20 reps.
6. Position your computer monitor so that the top third of the screen is even with your eyes and around eighteen to twenty-four inches away from you.
Good posture will improve your health in many areas and make you feel better every day. Between a little effort on your part and a good back pain doctor on your team, you set yourself up for a future full of the activities you love instead of pain and degeneration that you’ll get from poor posture. If you have any questions or are looking for treatment, schedule a spine and posture exam at Relax Holistic Healthcare.