Forward head posture is characterized by the excessive extension and protrusion of the head, which is often accompanied by rounding of the shoulders and upper back. According to Chiro.org, for every inch your head extends forward, it adds about 10 pounds of weight upon your neck and shoulder girdle, which may lead to excessive stress and pain in those areas. Performing corrective exercises can improve your posture. The exercises you do depends on your lifestyle, health history, fitness status and the severity of the poor posture. Consult with an qualified exercise professional for a program that addresses your specific issues.
Causes and Effects
Mental Stress, prolonged sitting and excessive pushing exercises can cause forward head posture, which may lead to headaches and upper shoulder tightness. A 2013 study conducted at the University of Colorado showed that computer workers with a higher level of stress increased their neck extension and tightness in the upper trapezius more than those with a lower stress level. Corrective exercise has been shown in several studies to improve neck and back posture. A 2012 study published in "British Journal of Sports Medicine" showed that collegiate swimmers who performed corrective exercises for eight weeks had a decreased forward head angle. Researchers at the Basic Science Department in Cairo University in Egypt found that a combination of corrective exercise and conventional rehabilitation improves patients' scoliosis condition and daily function.
Floor exercises place the least amount of stress on your neck and shoulders and allow you to focus on your form without worrying about balance. The reverse bench press involves lying on the floor on your back with your legs resting on a couch so that your knees and hips are bent at about 90 degrees. Bring your arms out to your sides and bend your elbows to 90 degrees with your palms facing toward the couch. Exhale slowly as you push your elbows against the floor for three to four seconds, activating your upper back muscles. Relax your muscles and repeat the exercise about 10 times. Other floor exercises include Cat-and-Cow Pose, supine arm pullovers and sitting with your back against a wall. Corrective exercise professional Anthony Carey, author of "Pain-Free Program," recommends that you progress from the floor position to the quadruped, kneeling and standing positions.
Standing corrective exercises address your ability to maintain proper posture and balance with different feet positions or arm movements. One exercise is the standing wall press where you stand with your head, shoulders, back and buttocks against a wall and your feet about hip-distance apart. Put the back of your hands against the wall with your hands slightly out from your hips. Exhale gently and push your hands, arms and head against the wall for the duration of the exhalation. Do this exercise for 10 to 20 deep breaths. Some exercises, such as the overhead pull and external rotator pull, use an elastic band to strengthen your back and shoulders while you stand with your back and head against a wall.
Sometimes tight chest muscles can contribute to forward head posture, and stretching them can reduce excessive upper back flexion and neck extension.The standing doorway chest stretch stretches your chest muscles while extending your spine and neck. With both arms placed against the doorjamb and bent at 90 degrees, stand with one foot in front of you. Take several deep, slow breaths as you carefully shift your weight forward to stretch your chest, pulling your shoulder blades together. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths, switch your foot position and repeat the exercise.
- Chiro.org: What is Forward Head Posture?
- Headache: Myofascial Trigger Points, Neck Mobility, and Forward Head Posture in Episodic Tension-Type Headache
- Exercise Biology: Exercises To Correct Forward Head and Shoulder Posture
- Journal of Orofascial Pain: Head and Cervical Posture in Patients With Temporomandibular Disorders
- Pain-Free Program: Anthony Carey
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: The Effects of an Exercise Intervention on Forward Head and Rounded Shoulder Postures in Elite Swimmers