Do you or someone you know work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks out the year in front a computer? Do you or someone you know use their cell phone for hours checking emails, text messages, browsing the web or playing games? Our body’s were not designed to be in these sedentary positions for extended periods of time. As a result of our modern technological environment, our heads tend to translate forward in what is known as forward head posture. Forward head posture is becoming more and more of an epidemic in today’s society due to the increased use of cell phones and computers. You may not even realize it, but the effects of bad posture can be very detrimental to your health and well-being.
If you didn’t already know, our heads weigh close to 8-12 pounds. For every inch our head moves forward, the weight of our heads on the spine can increase by an additional ten pounds. Texting especially leads to excessive downward posture or rounding of the neck and upper back which has been shown to cause accelerated spinal aging and premature degenerative arthritis of the spine. A 2005 Spine Journal article by Dr. Steven Glassman further illustrates the negative effects of forward head posture. By evaluating 752 subjects and measuring the base of one’s neck in relation to their pelvis, he and his staff of medical doctors found that “all measures of health status showed significantly poorer score as posture deviations increased (increased forward head posture).” Minor forward head posture was found to negatively affect breathing, heart rate, increase pain/disability, and all health markers that were measured worsened as the posture deviations increased. Additionally where your head goes, so does the rest of your spine. Forward head posture can eventually lead to other aches and pains such as general back pain, sciatic pain, carpal tunnel like symptoms, headaches, fatigue and much more.
How do you know if you have bad posture? Looking at a side view of an individual, do their ears line up with their shoulders? Do their shoulders roll forward? Do they slouch their backs? In a front to back view, are their shoulders and hips even from the left and right side? All of these are little cues to see if one has correct posture. If your posture is bad and you have a number of aches/pains, either something needs to change or something needs to be corrected.
What can you do to counteract the effects of bad posture? First off, being aware of your ergonomics and posture. Make sure that your computer screen is at eye level and make sure that you are not always looking down when you text/use your cell phone. Bring your cell phone close to eye level so that your head is still looking forward instead of down towards the floor. Next make sure you see a chiropractor who specializes in corrective care, someone who looks at your overall posture. The goal for care is spinal health and to make sure one’s nervous system is functioning optimally so that the body can heal and adapt to everyday stresses. Correcting one’s posture is not as simple as standing/sitting up straight, spinal health is a crucial part of it. When was the last time you had your spine evaluated by a chiropractor? Do not wait until you have long list of symptoms that need to be addressed.