Forward Head Carriage

June 26, 2019

Forward head carriage, or forward head posture is one of the most common causes of tension and pain in the neck, head, shoulders, and spine.This condition exists when the skull protrudes more than an inch over  the vertebra in the neck on which the head rests.For every inch where the head moves forward on the shoulders, the weight of the head exerts at least 10 pounds of pressure on the neck. Increased pressure on the shoulders and neck means that the shoulders and neck have to carry the additional burden the whole day and this leads to  contraction of the neck and shoulder muscles. This results in strain on the neck muscles, decreased blood circulation, pain and fatigue.

According to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter Vol. 18, #3, March 2000, the effects of long term forward neck posture leads to “long term muscle strain, disc herniation and pinched nerves.

The most common causes of forward head carriage are computer or reader’s neck, and driving stress.  Chronic forward head posture can contribute to disc herniation, nerve impingement and osteoporosis. Symptoms include:

  • Chronic pain in the neck, shoulders, upper, lower and middle back.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Fatigue.
  • Decrease in the range of motion.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and arms.
  • Tightness and soreness in the neck and chest muscles.

Take the Wall Test for Forward Head Carriage:  Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard. With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your neck and the wall. If you can get within two inches at the neck, you are close to having good posture. If not, your neck posture is protruding forward.
When the spinal tissues are subject to significant pressure for long periods of time, these changes can become permanent. This is why it takes time and a concerted effort using multiple techniques to correct the poor neck posture condition.

  • 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.
  • For additional exercises try E pain assist exercise for forward head posture
  • For regular massage & bodywork try Christy’s Therapeutic Massage.