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What Is Forward Head Posture and How to Fix It?

27 July 2023

A problem that affects somewhere between 60 and 90% of the population, forward head posture actually has a bunch of unflattering names. Nerd neck, and text neck are probably the ones most people would have heard of.

People who spend a lot of time hunched over their computers or phones may find that they suffer from forward head posture. Though it may not seem like that big a problem, it can actually worsen if left ignored, and have a significant impact on other parts of the body as well.

But what is forward head posture? How do you fix it? Let's find out.

What is Forward Head Posture?

Forward head posture is an abnormality in the position of the head. Normally, the head should be directly above the cervical spine, but in forward head posture, it tends to poke forward instead. You can tell if you have forward head posture by checking whether your head protrudes in front of your shoulders or not.

This is bad because it puts extra pressure on your cervical spine and neck muscles and increases the risk of spinal degeneration. Forward head posture can make some muscles overactive, which can make the condition worse, and can also give you rounded shoulders.

Other muscles may become underactive, and this can affect your ability to keep your neck upright. Of course, anything that makes your body behave in any way besides what it should normally be doing is not good for it in the long term. If forward head posture remains untreated, it can include problems like joint disorders, respiratory inefficiency and general pain in the neck region.



Causes of Forward Head Posture

Forward head posture can happen due to a number of reasons but contemporary lifestyles have only contributed to the problem. That's why the condition is called nerd neck and text neck!

Most commonly, forward head posture is caused by:

Spending too much time looking down, whether that's at your phone or computer

Spending a long time driving

Carrying heavy bags

Sleeping with your head elevated, such as propped up against a sofa armrest or with too many, or too thick pillows.

However, there could also be other reasons behind it, such as:

Neck injuries

Weak muscles in the neck region

Playing sports that tend to favor one side of the body

Repetitive movements on a daily basis

Effects of Forward Head Posture

Like any other kind of posture problem, forward head posture can have negative effects on the rest of your body. In fact, it affects your neck muscles and makes those at the front of the neck weaker, and the ones at the back tighter.

This can cause all sorts of problems - neuropathic, musculoskeletal and even cardiovascular.

For one thing, you'd be in a lot of pain because of your upper back, shoulders and neck, but forward head posture can also cause rounded shoulders which can affect your lower back.

This also causes your center of balance to shift, which can make it difficult for you to balance yourself the right way and you may end up being more susceptible to falls.

Forward head posture can also have some short-term effects, ranging from neuropathic pain in the arms and hands, insomnia and sleep apnea. You may also suffer from fatigue and breathing trouble.

In the long-term, forward head posture can increase your risk of osteoporosis, arthritis and reduce your shoulder mobility.

Fixing and Preventing Forward Head Posture

Clearly, forward head posture is not something anyone wants to have, given how many negative effects it can have. But can you prevent forward head posture? More importantly, if you've already been afflicted, can you correct forward head posture?

The good news is: yes, you can! Some small lifestyle changes can help you get rid of the problem.



Use a Good Pillow

It may seem like an absurdly simple solution, but you'd be surprised at how much your pillow can affect your health. You need a pillow that supports your neck in its natural curve. If it's too high or low, it can put extra pressure on your neck, and keeping your neck in that position all night, every night will undoubtedly have a negative effect.

A good pillow is one that is firm and can support your neck in its natural position.



Exercise

Postural problems are usually fixed with the right kind of exercise, and are also caused by lack of exercise. That means that if you suffer from forward head posture, you can fix it by incorporating exercises into your daily routine.

The good thing is that because the exercises only require you to move your neck and head, you can usually do these while sitting at your desk as well, and don't necessarily need to make time for them.

Some simple exercises are:

1. Tilt your neck forward until your chin touches your chest and hold for a few seconds before releasing

2. Turn your head to the side until you feel a stretch and hold for a while before releasing

3. Tilt your head to the side until you feel a stretch and hold for a while before releasing

4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together for a while before releasing.

None of these exercises require anything special, and you can do them pretty much anywhere. Do them multiple times a day, 3-4 sets at a time and your neck muscles will get stronger. This will help you combat the problem of nerd neck.

For more serious conditions, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also help you out.



Fix Your Backpack

Your backpack can also affect your neck! Many people end up carrying large backpacks filled with things they may need, but are not necessary.

Minimize how many things you hold in your backpack, and try to avoid bags that are too large for you. If you must carry a lot of things, try to position heavier items in the center so that you put minimal stress on your shoulders.

You should also avoid holding your bag by one strap so that it doesn't put extra pressure on only one side of your neck. Even if you keep switching which side you're holding it at, this is harmful and should be avoided.



Focus on The Ergonomics of Your Workstation

The major contributor towards forward head posture is using your computer or phone for a long period of time. When you consider how much time you spend at your workstation, just staring at your computer screen, it's easy to figure out where the problem lies.

That said, while you can't just stop using your computer - we have to make a living, after all! - you can make some adjustments to make it easier on your back and neck. Focusing on ergonomics makes sure that your posture is appropriate.

The best thing is to look for a desk and chair combo that allows you to sit straight. Your chair should provide back support and should ideally come with a headrest so your neck can be supported.

Your desk should also be at the right height to hold your monitor screen at a position that is directly in front of you, so you don't end up looking up or down.

However, finding a desk that can manage this without also putting stress on your arms is difficult. This is especially true if you are using a laptop. While monitors can help fix the posture problem, laptops will either make you look down, or lift your arms up - both of which are not good for your body.

Obviously, if you already have a desk, you can't go looking for a new one.

Instead, you can opt for a standing desk converter like the FlexiSpot AlcoveRiser. This standing desk converter lets you get the benefits of a standing desk without needing to actually get a standing desk. It fixes the problem of looking down at your laptop by raising it up to eye level. You can get peripherals to avoid putting stress on your arms and wrists.

The removable keyboard tray allows you to keep the peripherals attached when you need them, and can be removed later when they're getting in the way.

This standing desk convertor has a very straight up and down operation, which helps save space because it doesn't need to extend outwards while rising. The fact that it rises straight up also makes it a lot more stable. The desk also has a single handle instead of two, which makes it a lot easier to lift the platform to the right height. It also has a height range of 4.7" to 19.7" which makes it compatible with people of all heights.

This standing desk converter has a solid steel frame and top quality gas springs that make the frame very stable and strong, and makes sure you can hold all your items without having to worry about them toppling over.

With this standing desk converter, you get to prevent and correct the problem of forward head posture with all the extra benefits it provides.