By Dr. Joseph Cilea
Have you ever noticed how many people have terrible posture? One of the most common faulty postures is called “forward head carriage” or “anterior based occiput.” Other terms are “hump back” or slouching. There are several reasons for this common postural fault. One is the weight of the head is, on average, approximately 10-13 pounds and if it’s positioned too far forwards, the muscles in the upper back and neck tighten up much more than normal, fatigue and become painful. Also, the muscles that attach to the skull have different degrees of strength. They also attach and pull at different angles, contributing to the common forward head carriage posture. The muscles of the chest are much stronger than those in the mid and upper back and tend to pull our shoulders forward. The following pictures offer a good view of both a faulty posture as well as a “good” posture. Notice the forward shift in the line in the pictures of poor posture and backwards shift in the good posture pictures.
As you can see, the weight of the head is back over the shoulders and the shoulder posture is appropriately positioned back in the image titled “Good Head Posture.”
It is important to understand correcting Forward Head Carriage takes time – in fact, it takes a minimum of 3 month before this becomes an automatic new “habit.” Of course, it could take longer or, completely fail if you are not very conscientious about constantly reminding yourself to position your posture as shown above in the “Good Head Posture” image (above). An exercise based on this posture correction technique is performed by retracting your chin / head as far back as you can and holding that position for 5-10 seconds. Doing this multiple times a day, between the time you maintain a partial chin tuck (“Good Head Posture”) position will further facilitate the posture retraining process.
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