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The way we work on our job can play a significant impact on our health. The way we sit, stand, walk, and the move must be given proper attention because they create a big part of our lifestyle. If your work needs you to stare at a computer screen for long hours, or work while sitting or standing for a prolonged duration, then you can be at risk of having forward head posture. It is a condition that many people are not paying attention to, but may already be experiencing. We should always aim to have the proper head posture to ensure better work experience and promote overall health.
According to experts, an ideal posture must have segments of the body to be properly aligned. This is to avoid or lessen stresses on the muscles and other parts of the body. In a proper head posture, your neck should not be slanting forward, and your head is not posing in front of your shoulders. The right head posture will not strain the muscles on the neck and put pressure on the cervical spine.
Forward head posture is defined as a complication of rounded upper back and shoulders often slouched forward. One of the leading causes of this condition is today’s modern living and work lifestyle. People have become too engaged with their mobile phones and computer screens. More and more working individuals are complaining about neck pain and compression of the spine, which has the function of supporting the head.
Some known common causes of forward head posture are the following:
- Texting posture which is done for long hours
- Poor posture at work such as slouched sitting, backward or forward leaning of the head for long hours
- Lack of exercise for back muscle strength
- Poor pelvis and lumbar spine posture
- Slouching while working
- Poor ergonomic setup in the workplace
- Sleeping with the head positioned in a high position
A study revealed the effects of forward head posture to the lower and upper thoracic shape in adults. The study concluded that forward head posture leads to the upper thorax’s expansion and lower thorax’s contraction. In addition, these changes can also put respiratory functions at risk.
Other effects of forward head posture are the following:
- Possible disc degeneration
- Experiencing Temporomandibular Joint Pain or TMJ
- Tension headaches
- Experiencing fatigue and pain
- Muscle ischemia
- Lowered cervical spine motions
- Possible nerve compression
- Problems with the capacity of your shoulders and arms
Gavin Morrison, PT, wrote an article talking about the effects of forward head posture on the neck muscles. The article mentioned that this type of posture adds more workloads to the muscles on the cervical spine, which has the function of holding up your head. It can also lead to muscle issues, such as adding stress to how the body promotes proper head posture. According to the same article, the muscles that are affected when you have forward head posture include chest muscles, suboccipital muscles, and levator scapulae muscles.
It is important to pay attention to the causes and effects of forward head posture to make sure that it will be appropriately handled. If left unnoticed, this type of posture can lead to other forms of long-term health problems. Some of these health conditions include reduced mobility, shoulder pain, arthritis of the neck, herniated discs, and back pain. We should be thankful that today’s innovations in technology and health aid in increasing awareness about different conditions. Some wellness solutions and cutting-edge treatments are being introduced to protect the body from strain and injuries. Of course, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. That is why if you promote proper posture, forward head posture can be prevented.
Every health condition has its own symptoms and warning signs. When it comes to forward head posture, there is a test that you can try to analyze if you are at risk of it. Stand up with your back leaning against the wall. Keep your heels apart at shoulder-width. Then, press your butt up against the wall, as well as your shoulder blades. Make sure to check if your back of the head touches the wall. If you notice the back of the head is not touching the wall, then you could have weak muscles in the neck. It can be a sign that you have a forward head posture.
Symptoms of forward head posture can vary and may affect individuals in several different ways, too. They may include but not limited to upper back pain, migraines, headaches, neck pain, and sleeping problems. People who have forward head posture also experience muscle tightness, trigger point pains, general soreness in the neck, back, head, and shoulders, and intense pain on the side of the neck or the base of the skull.
There are three ways to improve forward head posture, according to an article shared by the Spine Health website. These include the following tips:
- Doing chin tucks and chest stretches every morning
- Use a cervical pillow when sleeping
- Apply proper ergonomics to your workstation
The article also reminded us that fixing forward head posture does not happen in a short period of time. This can take several weeks or months as long as you do the tips mentioned above correctly. If the forward head posture leads to other worse pains, it’s best to consult a professional therapist to help you.
An interesting article shares some tips and exercises on how to fix forward head posture. You can read it here. Also, Spine-Health.com gives some tips on how to fix this condition, including doing exercise regularly that will stretch tight muscles and make weak muscles stronger. We should also maintain good posture while doing our daily activities.
Any ergonomic adjustment can make a significant impact on the workplace, lifestyle, environment, or habits of anyone. These changes can make standing or sitting more comfortable and may reduce the possible risks of having forward head posture. Promoting ergonomics in the workplace may not be enough; that is why more thorough studies will be needed to find more comprehensive solutions.
Some studies reveal that doing some exercises that can lower the risks and effects of work-related back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Ergonomic experts advised workers to ergonomically set up their computer monitor, desk, and keyboard. For instance, using an ergonomic chair can be a big help as well. When working with your computer, you should sit or stand upright and keep the following tips in mind:
- Your eyes should be looking at the computer screen directly
- Do not bend or tilt back your head and neck
- Keep your elbows in your side comfortably
- Have your forearms and thighs in a parallel position with the floor
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
Medical experts have also found out that applying poor ergonomics in the workplace can cause neck pain and forward head posture. A study revealed that individuals who are working in a sedentary lifestyle as well as intensively using computers are at a higher risk of developing neck pain and other posture-related issues.
Read this article on how you can keep yourself from a sedentary lifestyle.
Nowadays, there are various ergonomic tools and equipment that we can use in the workplace to prevent posture-related problems. Some of them include standing desks, converters, ergonomic chairs, and other ergonomic accessories. All we need is the awareness and the discipline to use and apply them to our lives with consistency.