Four natural curves can be found in the human spine. The curve in your neck is appropriately called the arc of life because those cervical vertebrae protect the brain stem and spinal nerves that affect the entire body. When we fail to maintain the correct curvature in our spine, we can lose half of our spinal strength.
A common cause of improper curvature in the spine is forward head posture, which occurs when the head is held forward.
I speak all the time about the importance of maintaining balance in the nutritional, physical and psychological components of the Triad of Health. I’ve discussed the consequences of hormonal imbalance. I’ve discussed how basic functional tests can help us assess our balance, stability, flexibility and strength.
We also need to balance our noggins above our bodies.
When you hold your head forward, you place additional strain on the muscles in your back and neck. You also compress nerves, which can cause headaches at the base of the skull that feel like sinus headaches.
Subluxation, which occurs when a misaligned spine causes nerve irritation, can result from forward head posture. But the consequences of forward head posture go far beyond the head, neck and back. It can knock the entire spine out of alignment.
According to Dr. Rene Cailliet, forward head posture can cause you to lose 30 percent of vital lung capacity because it inhibits your ability to properly lift your ribs. This can disrupt your gastrointestinal system and lead to asthma and heart disease.
Other health problems related to forward head posture include fatigue, disc compression, arthritis, TMJ pain, changes in blood flow, fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Common causes of forward head posture include sitting at a desk, using a computer, watching TV, playing video games and carrying heavy backpacks. Not surprisingly, forward head posture is becoming more common in younger patients who are constantly hunched over their smartphones and mobile devices.
It can also result from trauma from a car accident, a fall or even child birth.
Trauma and accidents can’t be controlled, but we can certainly take steps to improve our posture, from using ergonomic office equipment to raising computer monitors to eye level.
Of course, the best thing we can do is spend less time sitting, watching TV and playing video games, and more time moving around like the human body is designed to do.
If you’re noticing any of the symptoms of forward head posture, make an appointment with a chiropractor. A chiropractor can measure the curves in your spine, provide adjustments that treat the effects of forward head posture, and help restore the body’s natural, self-healing mechanisms.
In the meantime, keep your head up, and get up and move around! It’s good for your health!