Forward head posture is a condition that is becoming more and more prevalent due to the way we use electronic devices and is commonly called text neck. Constantly bending the head forward can cause tightness in the neck and upper back, headaches and problems with the spine.
Why is being aware of your forward head posture so important?
Dr. Gary Weinstein: Well, forward head posture is what we are seeing more, and more prevalent. Probably 95% of the patients that come into my office have this condition. We get forward head posture from being on computers. This is the workplace injury of the new millennium. It is from working on computers, it is from growing up using laptops and using cellphones. If you go into any office setting and look around, everybody is on their phone with their head bent forward. It is causing a crisis in the United States because of the devastating effects that result from this.
What symptoms do patients experience if they have forward head posture?
Dr. Gary Weinstein: Well, one of the musculoskeletal symptoms that they can experience is tightness to the neck and upper back. They may experience headaches, they may experience strains, especially neck strains. Feeling that they have to move their neck around, that they are uncomfortable. As that forward head posture gets worse or is prolonged, then the symptoms become systemic and this is where people do not really understand the significance. It is one thing to have an ache or a pain, it is another thing when it starts effecting our body in systemic ways. A one inch forward head posture, for every inch it doubles the weight of the head. If you have an inch forward head posture, your head weighs 12 pounds, it is now acting as if it weighs 24. This is offloading the facets in the back, so the messages from the receptor sites in the facet joints do not get to the brain properly, to the cerebellum. It also now loads the disc and puts pressure on the disc, which long term will cause that spine to degenerate. Also predisposing us for a posterior disc herniation as well.
What is text-neck and how does it affect your forward head posture?
Dr. Gary Weinstein: Text-neck is a term that we are starting to hear more and more of, but it is from that forward head posture being on the phones texting all the time. Now, is it a bad thing to text? Given the frequencies that are given off from the telephone held next to our ear and doing thermal studies to watch those, I’m not so sure that talking on a cellphone is the best thing. Texting may be a little bit better. At the same time, with our head being bent forward it is leading to this forward head posture. With one inch forward head posture, we lose 30% of our vital capacity. This is the important thing. Our vital capacity is our ability to breathe and take in oxygen. As we decrease that, we tend to have an increase in heart rate, we tend to have an increase in blood pressure. We go into what is called, sympathetic dominance. Sympathetic is our fight-or-flight. Parasympathetic is our digestion, our rest, our organ production. We are designed to be higher parasympathetic, than sympathetic.
This is why when I was a kid and it’s been a while ago for me, but we didn’t go into a swimming pool for a half an hour after we ate, okay. People laugh and say, “Probably for the swimming, not bad,” but the truth is, the theory behind that was absolutely correct. You cannot eat a big meal and then go perform in a highly competitive athletic event. Your body will get rid of that meal so that you can perform, because you can’t be sympathetic dominant and parasympathetic dominant. This is leading to a lot of our gut production, our gut shutdown, and boy I could spend 12 hours presenting this topic.
How can chiropractic care help correct the damage done by poor head posture?
Dr. Gary Weinstein: Well through chiropractic care, through the spinal adjustments that occur, we actually work to get the spine functioning properly. We also do rehab work in our office along with that to bring that head back over the shoulders, get motion into those joints to slow down, if not halt, and we can show on film where we’ve reversed some degenerative changes in there, which is typically not seen. That’s why we take post-films, so we can see before and after of what is happening. Yes, we do get that forward head posture back and the results are typically amazing of what occurs. Not just with the aches and pains, but the overall health aspect of the patient.
What are some ways a patient can correct their forward head posture?
Dr. Gary Weinstein: Well, good posture to start with is a big thing. They can start looking at their work situation, their ergonomic situation. Are they looking down at their computer or is their computer up at eye level? They can do exercises and you can go online and find exercises that will help with the forward head posture to bring that back. Specifically, they are better off seeing their chiropractor so that we can work with not only the adjustments to reduce the subluxation complex, but then also any rehab work specifically for that patient so that they could correct that forward head posture.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Gary Weinstein visit www.weinsteinchiro.com or call 412-269-0444 to schedule an appointment.