Do you remember how your grandmother used to constantly remind you to “sit up straight?” Looking back, those were wise words. Our society now spends large amounts of time spent slumped over sitting at the computer, reading a Kindle or iPad, texting, playing video games, or knitting. This leads to what is clinically called “forward head posture.”
To check whether you have forward head posture, grab a partner and take turns examining each other. You will simply stand tall while looking straight ahead. Have your partner evaluate you from the side. Ideally your ear should fall in line directly over your shoulder. If your ear has fallen forward from your shoulder, you probably have what is called forward head posture. This posture causes the curve of your neck to begin to flatten which puts added stress on the bones, discs and nerves of your neck possibly causing early decay. To compensate for this position your body will begin to roll your shoulders forward and then you risk becoming hunched over. Symptoms that you may experience from this condition include frequent headaches, tightness and/or pain in the back of the neck and upper back, and constant tightness in both shoulders.
Ways to correct or prevent this condition:
- Be very mindful of using technology. Take breaks throughout the day. Make sure your computer monitor is directly in front of you and make sure it is sitting high enough. The center of your computer monitor should be at eye level. Most people tend to have their monitors too low causing you to slump forward. If you are going to sit and read your cell phone, hold it up in front of your face. Remember to keep your head looking forward and try to minimize looking down all the time.
- Buy a book stand. If you or your children have long periods of time where you are going to be reading consider using a book stand that will elevate the book and minimize the amount of time you have to look down.
- At the end of a long workday many people have assumed a hunched forward posture from sitting at the computer all day. On your commute home, raise your rear-view mirror just a little bit. This will force you to sit up a little taller.
- Constantly correct your posture if you notice yourself starting to slump forward. Posture has both a conscious and unconscious component. You can literally start to retrain your body to establish better posture.
- See a chiropractor. A chiropractor can check to see if there are misalignments in the spine that could be contributing to your forward head posture. They will correct the misalignments as well as provide ergonomic advice as well as stretches and exercises that can help to begin to correct this problem.