Anterior head carriage, aka “forward head posture” or FHP, is a condition that many people suffer from. For some people, there are no symptoms to indicate that their posture is less than perfect, however, in others, many other symptoms will present themselves as a result. Let’s take a closer look at the condition and what causes it.
What Is Anterior Head Carriage?
As the name indicates, anterior head carriage is a condition where the head is improperly aligned with the neck and shoulders in such a way that the head leans forward at an unnatural angle.
What Causes Anterior Head Carriage?
In most cases, anterior head carriage is related to poor posture. Often referred to as “the Scholar’s Neck” or “the Reading Neck”, the condition is very common amongst those people who spent a lot of time reading or performing other activities that cause the head to tilt forward. Here are some of the most common causes that can lead to the condition:
- Spending a lot of time at a computer or desk
- Spending a lot of time looking downward such as when using a cell phone to send text messages
- Poor posture while watching television or playing video games
- Sleeping with your head raised too high
- Sports that involve looking downward such as hockey, golf, baseball etc.
- Carrying heavy backpacks or luggage
- Weak neck and back muscles
- Poor ergonomics
- Any other activities not mentioned that cause the head to tilt forward
What are the Symptoms of Anterior Head Carriage?
For a lucky few, anterior head carriage will not present any symptoms. But for the rest of us, this writer included, a vast array of symptoms will present. And if left untreated, the damage can spread to the read of the body.
Initially, the symptoms will begin with the obvious ‘head tilt’ associated with the condition, followed by an inward rounding of the shoulders. As the shoulders curve inward, the muscles of the neck and back will begin to be impacted by the unnatural ‘pulling’ forces of the weight of the head tilting forward.
The average person’s head weighs between 9 and 10 pounds. Properly supported with correct posture, the head should feel fairly weightless, but tilted forward, your body will feel every pound of it, pulling and tugging your neck and back out of position. The result? Pain in the neck, shoulders, and eventually pain that radiates out to the upper, middle and lower back. Left untreated and uncorrected, the patient can expect the following additional symptoms in their future:
- Tightness in the neck that reduces the range of motion so that turning the head or tilting it back into the correct position becomes difficult
- Clenching of the teeth that can lead to ear and jaw pain
- Continued inward rounding of the shoulders
- Chest tightness
- Pain in the upper arms as the shoulder muscles begin to tighten
- Numbness and tingling in the lower arms and wrists
- Ear and jaw pain
- Pain across the upper back that radiates down through the middle and lower back
The list goes on. The most important thing to understand about this postural issue, is that the longer it is left untreated or uncorrected, the worse the symptoms will become. And along with the list above, the collateral damage these symptoms cause can include extreme fatigue due to lack of proper sleep, headaches, muscles spasms, and a general reduction in the quality of the patient’s life. So what can be done to correct this issue?
There are a few things you can do at home to help reduce and/or correct anterior head carriage. First, assess the severity of the condition by doing a couple of quick little tests. In front of a mirror, stand with your usual posture. Is your chin pointing towards the floor? Next, stand with your back against a wall. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with your butt and shoulder blades touching the wall. In this stance, does the back of your head touch the wall? If not, your posture needs some work.
Here are a few simple exercises you can do at home to help correct your posture:
1.Chin Retractions – while lying on the floor with your knees bent, look at the ceiling. Slowly nod your head forward and backward. Do ten to twenty reps.
2.Shoulder Squeezes – while sitting in a chair with correct posture (head straight, shoulders back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. Release shoulder blades, then repeat the squeeze ten to twenty times.
3.Head Rolls – while sitting in a chair with correct posture, slowly rotate your head around in a circle to increase range of motion.
If the above steps aren’t working and your pain and other symptoms are increased, the Chiropractors and RMTs at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage can help! As noted, anterior head carriage is a postural problem. In order to correct bad posture, the patient’s joints and muscles must be strong and healthy. To that end, a chiropractic adjustment is the best place to start to ensure proper alignment is occurring. Then, several massages to lengthen and strength the muscles of the neck, shoulders and back, will help to loosen the muscles, restore range of motion, and ultimately enable the patient to practice corrective measures at home.
The therapists at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage will also help you to understand what changes may be necessary to your lifestyle and work environment. These changes could include things like reducing your use of devices that require you to tilt your head forward; ensuring that your work stations has proper ergonomics, and ensuring that you are sleeping on the right type of mattress and pillow to help support your neck and back.
Anterior Head Carriage is a postural problem that occurs in patients who perform repeated movements and activities that cause the head to tilt forward. If not corrected, the results can be debilitating. Before
anterior head carriage becomes a real problem for you, come and visit Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage.