This is a question which has been asked countless times to our Chiropractors at Perth Allied Health Clinic & Pingelly Chiropractic. Forward head posture, also known as anterior Head carriage & “Text Neck” is a common postural issue which affects how load is distributed throughout the Cervical spine.
Varying degrees of forward head posture alters weight transfer onto the neck and shoulders. Which has the potential to elongate and weaken key muscles in the neck region as well as cause stress around the spine potentially lead to pain & early degenerative wear and tear processes. The numbers are massive as the head moves forward from a neutral position. Below is some data from an article from the Australian Spinal Research Foundation.
“In a neutral head position… the average human head weighs 4.5-5.5 Kilograms. However, as the head moves forward, this number increases drastically:
– At 15 degrees, the head weighs 12 kilograms
– At 30 degrees, it increases to 18 kilograms
– At 45 degrees, it weighs 22 kilograms
– At 60 degrees, it exerts a force of 27 kilograms on the cervical spine
It is clear from these statistics that the biomechanics affects of forward head posture cannot be understated.
However, new studies have shown that the effects of forward head posture is not limited to just the hardware of the spine (Vertebrae & Discs) but also affecting the bodies software (the nervous system).
For instance a 2020/21 study(s) [2, 3, 4, 5.] has found that forward head posture may lead to abnormal afferent nerve impulses and sensorimotor control affecting muscle activity, proprioception, breathing patterns, and neck pain.
Basically, this means that the sensory and motor impulses that your neck is sending to your brain are being abnormally disrupted.
Proprioception is your body’s way of sensing where it is in space. If the messages’ being sent to your brain from your body, are abnormal in manner it can negatively affect things like your balance & spatial orientation.
The study also indicated forward head posture was associated with abnormal autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Your ANS is split into two sections; your parasympathetic system (rest, digest, reproduce and repair) and sympathetic (flight and fight response).
The study indicated, that sustained forward head posture may be associated with an increase in our sympathetic nervous system response. This means that our body may be overreacting to stressors and/or distorting its response to normal and regular stimuli and creating an unnecessary stress response [1, 3, 4.].
Hence, this is why it is important to maintain a neutral posture as well as move often. Normal or great posture cannot be understated because it allows the brain to cope with day to day stress more easily and provide more accurate feedback when performing complex tasks that require you to have good balance and coordination [1, 3, 5.].
With the above information it is our personal belief that this may just be the tip of the iceberg in regards to correlating poor posture with negative health outcomes and that further study still needs to be done over the next few years.
However, from the latest research we can see that head posture matters and our Chiropractors and Remedial Massage Therapists at Perth Allied Health Clinic are looking forward to helping you manage these conditions and be at your best.
If this sounds like you call 0476 252 599 or book online by hitting the button below!
- Clare McIvor, (2020). “New Study Shows How Forward Head Posture Affect the Brain,” Australian Spinal Research Foundation, http://spinalresearch.co.au>new-study-shows-how-forward-head-posture-affects-the-brain/
- Staff Writer, (2016), “Stress on the spine: the downside of prolific social media use,” Australian Spinal Research Foundation,https://spinalresearch.com.au/stress-on-the-spine-the-downside-of-prolific-social-media-use/
- Ibrahim M Moustafa, Ahmed Youssef, Amal Ahbouch, May Tamim, Deed E. Harrison (2020), “Is forward head posture relevant to autonomic nervous system function and cervical sensorimotor control? Cross sectional study, Gait and amp: Posture (2020)