Poor Posture and Headaches

A recent study published in the medical journal Headache showed an increase in tension headache frequency and duration with head forward posture.

Imagine how uncomfortable it would be to hang a bowling ball around your neck. Well this is exactly what your body might be experiencing every day if you suffer Forward Head Posture.

The weight of the head is approximately 8-12 pounds, much like a bowling ball. When the weight of the head is put out in front of the body, it puts stress on the neck muscles and causes muscle contractions that decrease blood flow and nerve supply to the head.

It is researched that for every inch the head shifts forward, the muscles on the back of the neck (extensors) are required to work against the gravitational force (isometrically) not only the head’s weight but also an extra 10 pounds of each inch of forward head migration.

For example, a 12 pound head that moves three inches forward of the thorax forces the neck extensor muscles to support a 42 pound head against the incredible forces of gravity.

The extra pressure on the neck from altered posture flattens the normal curve of the cervical spine resulting in abnormal strain of muscles, ligaments, bones and joints of the neck causing the joints to deteriorate faster than normal resulting in degenerative joint disease or neck arthritis (Commonly Known as Spondylosis).

Correction of poor neck posture is key to stopping and reversing the decay and degenerative disc disease that neck structures undergo and the pain that can result including neck pain, headaches and pain between the shoulders.

This is thought to be a major cause in tension headaches experienced by millions of people. These headaches account for a large percentage of the over-the-counter pain medications sold each year.

Forward Head Posture

Forward Head Posture

Head forward posture is everywhere in our society; just look around and see how many people carry their head in front of their shoulders. What causes head forward posture? Head forward posture can be caused from an injury or from a sustained poor posture.

  • Injury – Head forward posture can be the result of an injury to the neck. For example, whiplash from an auto injury causes the muscles of the neck to tighten and decreases the natural curve of the neck. This curve is responsible for maintaining the proper weight balance of the head. When the curve is lost, more weight is put on the neck muscles. This leads to muscle spasms, which lead to tension headaches.
  • Poor Posture – If you work in an office, you have a great opportunity to witness head forward posture on a daily basis. Computers, long work days, poor ergonomics and poor posture leads to muscle spasms that lead to tension headaches.
Some Common Causes of Poor Neck Posture
drivers neck
Driving Stress
computer neck
Computer Neck
couch neck
Couch Neck
readers neck
Readers Neck

Good Health Begins With Good Posture

Being conscious of your head forward posture throughout the day can help prevent tension headaches. Putting a reminder like a post-it note can be a great way to help remember the importance of good neck posture.

An unhealthy spine can lead to many other health problems. Applying ergonomic principles can help prevent headaches and other work-related injuries to help maintain a healthier you.

Your Minnesota Chiropractor will work with you to determine how your posture is affecting the health of your spine. You want to be sure that you are doing all the right things to maintain proper posture throughout the day.

Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 2006: (Mar): 46 (3): 454-460