Head Position, Posture and Headaches

Posture is the position we hold our body in when standing, sitting or lying down. Our body does have an ideal posture, which enables it to move efficiently and optimize its function and comfort. It also means that variations from the ideal position requires more muscular activity tomaintain and may stress joints and surrounding soft tissue. Most people don’t realise that the average adult head weighs about 4.5 kg, because we don’t notice the work our spine, muscles and ligaments are doing to stabilise it, when it’s sitting in the ideal position.

When that position is changed by the postures we adopt in our daily activities, we are actually increasing the load on our neck to the point where for every 2-3 cm of forward head position, it is estimated that we are doubling the load on our neck and upper back. This may lead to increased wear and tear that in the short term may lead to upper back pain, neck pain and headaches, whilst in the longer term may lead to osteoarthritis.

Typically the headaches associated with forward head position are on the same side as the neck dysfunction and can often radiate around the temple area and across the top of the head. Patients will often describe them as feeling like a nagging, aching pain in and behind the eye. They can interrupt your sleep, making it difficult to concentrate and are usually worse at the end of the day.

While advances in computer and mobile phone technologies are designed to make our lives easier, they are also having a negative effect on our posture because of the many hours we spend with our head and neck bent forward reading computer screens and other digital displays.

Good posture for your head means that when viewed from the side your ear should be located over the centre of your shoulder. When viewed from the front your nose should be straight (not tilted) and both eyes at the same level. Any variations may indicate some type of spinal dysfunction.

Your neck movements can also be an indicator of whether poor head posture is causing any restricted movements. With normal rotation you should be able to almost touch your chin to your shoulder and with normal side bending, bring your ear to your shoulder, so that it is at least at an angle of 45 degrees.

If you, or others in your family, are spending lots of time with heads bent forward, a simple exercise is to pull your chin in and then stretch your head back to maintain good head position and muscle tone. Your family chiropractor can show you how to perform this exercise correctly.

If you would like to find out more about the impact of forward head position on posture, or the resolution of headaches from neck dysfunction, contact Waverley Central Chiropractic.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and is used for educational purposes only. If you are having pain or health related complaints, please seek out a licensed healthcare professional.