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Anterior Head Carriage

Practicing good posture is something we are familiar with, starting at a young age, but for most people can be a relatively hard goal to achieve and maintain. Like most things in life, both positive and negative postural changes happen over a long period of time. The focus this week is a reminder of the importance of good posture and in particular head and neck posture as it relates to the curves in your spine. The seven bones that make up your neck are each separated by a disc. Together they make a backwards “C” curve known as a lordosis, which is the same type of curve you have in your low back. The disc size and shape are primarily responsible for the curve in your neck. Ideally, the normal posture of your cervical spine would have the opening in your ear in line with your shoulder. In today’s world, it is extremely common for many people to present with a forward head position, meaning their head is in front of the ideal position. Ideal posture can be seen in Figure 1 and a patient with forward head position in Figure 2.


This is, in part, due to the modern lifestyle of mainly moving in front of your body and rarely moving/using the muscles on the back side of the body (1). This forward positioning of the head can have some serious consequences. To give some perspective, for every inch forward your head moves in front of the ideal point, an additional 10 pounds of weight is added to your neck muscles (2). This increased tension in your neck can lead to a variety of issues including neck pain and headaches, two topics we have previously discussed (3). Additionally the forward positioning of the head can lead to jaw/chewing problems due to the increased tension on the muscles responsible for these actions as well (4). It is important to note that there are stretches and exercises that can be used to help alleviate the symptoms associated with these conditions (4). However, the best way to help with anterior head carriage is prevention by taking postural breaks and refraining from being still in the same position for a long period of time. At your next visit, feel free to ask Dr. Kennedy what to do if you think you have forward head posture.



Natural head position compared to anterior weight bearing head position.
Anterior Head Carriage

Sources

  1. Chu, E. C., Lo, F. S., Bhaumik, A. (2020). Plausible impact of forward head posture on upper cervical spine stability. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 9(5), 2517-2520.

  2. Mohamed, A. A., Jan, Y.-K., Raoof, N. A., Kattabei, O., Moustafa, I., & Hosny, H. (2022). Effect of biofeedback corrective exercise on reaction time and central somatosensory conduction time in patients with forward head posture and radiculopathy: a randomized controlled study. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 21(1), 39–50. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2022.01.001

  3. Lau, K. T., Cheung, K. Y., Chan, kwok B., Chan, M. H., Lo, K. Y., & Wing Chiu, T. T. (2010). Relationships between sagittal postures of thoracic and cervical spine, presence of neck pain, neck pain severity and disability. Manual Therapy, 15(5), 457–462. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.math.2010.03.009

  4. Sheikhhoseini, R., Shahrbanian, S., Sayyadi, P., & O’Sullivan, K. (2018). Effectiveness of therapeutic exercise on forward head posture: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 41(6), 530–539. https://doi-org.palmer.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2018.02.002



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