As a massage therapist one of the most common postural problems I see is Forward Head Posture (FHP). Nearly every client mentions some level of discomfort in their neck and shoulders! And with the increase in smart phones, I see it much more now than I did 8 years ago when I first started my massage practice.
Since we live in a front-facing world we are repeatedly looking forward and down while rolling our shoulders forward and slouching (texting, reading, typing, watching TV, driving, wearing a backpack…). Repetitive movements in any certain direction will strengthen the body’s nerve and muscle pathways to move in that direction (i.e. the more we pull forward, the easier it becomes for the body to naturally find and hold that posture).
The effects of poor posture on health and wellbeing are increasingly apparent. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, and lung capacity are among the functions more easily influenced by posture. Ideally, the head should sit directly on the neck and shoulders. Think of the weight of the head like a bowling ball: holding it forward and out of alignment, puts a massive strain on your neck and upper back muscles! The result can be chronic muscle fatigue and an aching neck.
This may seem unavoidable, but there are some simple, quick, and easy solutions that all of us can do to counteract the effects of our forward facing world.
- For office use and video game play, place your computer monitor height so the top third of the screen is even with your eyes and the screen is 18” – 24” from your face.
- Every half hour, sit/stand up straight and pull the neck and head back over you shoulders. Hold for a count of 3, and breath deeply. Do for 15-20 breaths.
- Use a back support pillow and engage your abdominal muscles when sitting or driving. By supporting the low back and engaging the abs, the head and neck will want to move back over the shoulders.
- Receive regular massage & bodywork and stretch your body to help keep your muscles lose and supple.