You might have seen a poster in some of our treatment rooms called “Text Neck”. It gives a fascinating insight in to forward head posture with varying degrees of the weight transfer on the neck and shoulders and its potential to cause stress around the spine and therefore, potentially lead to early degenerative wear and tear processes.
The numbers are huge as the head moves forward from a neutral spine position. The following description is an excerpt from an article from the Australian Spinal Research Foundation .
“In a neutral head position (with the lateral posture line running straight through the earlobes and shoulders, with shoulder blades retracted), the average human head weighs 10-12 pounds (4.5-5.5 Kilograms). However, as the head moves forward, this number increases drastically.
The study’s author went on to say that as your head tilts forward, you are loading the front of the disks .”
Sustained forward head posture is doing far more than just placing inordinate amounts of pressure on your discs, joints and muscles and leading to early degenerative joint processes, therefore pain.
For instance a 2020/21 study(s) [2, 3, 4, 5.] has found that forward head posture may lead to abnormal afferent nerve impulses and sensorimotor control affecting muscle activity, proprioception, breathing patterns, and neck pain.
Basically, this means that the sensory and motor impulses that your neck is sending to your brain are being abnormally disrupted.
Proprioception is your body’s way of sensing where it is in space. If the messages’ being sent to your brain from your body, are abnormal in manner it can negatively affect things like your balance, spatial orientation and motion sickness .
The study also indicated forward head posture was associated with aberrant autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity.
Your ANS is split into two sections; your parasympathetic system (rest, digest, reproduce and repair) and sympathetic (flight and fight response).
The study indicted, that sustained forward head posture may be associated with an increase in our sympathetic nervous system response. This means that our body may be overreacting to stressors and/or distorting its response to normal and regular stimuli and creating an unnecessary stress response [1, 3, 4.].
Hence, this is why it is important to maintain a neutral posture either, sitting, standing or even lying down. Normal or great posture cannot be understated because it allows the brain to cope with day to day stress more easily and provide more accurate feedback when performing complex tasks that require you to have good balance and coordination [1, 3, 5.].
With the above information it is our personal belief that this may just be the tip of the iceberg in regards to correlating poor posture with negative health outcomes and that further study still needs to be done over the next few years.
However, from the latest research we can see that head posture matters and the chiropractors and massage therapists at Karrinyup Wellness Centre are here to help you if you feel that yours is less than ideal!
Dr Jason Perry