This common malady is a result of the society we currently live in, sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day. Learn how to test to see if you have it and how to correct it.
Forward head, or vulture neck, refers to the posture where the head sits in front of the shoulders, while the eyes look straight ahead. Often in this position, you will need to squint your eyes and move your head closer to a computer screen to read the small print. That’s how vultures hold their head, hence the name.
The spine is made up of a series of “S” curves. Starting at the top, the first curve is made up of 7 cervical vertebrae. When your ears are over your shoulders, your cervical vertebrae have the right amount of curve and your body is in a balanced state with the muscles supporting your neck in a calm and relaxed state. However, when your ears are in front of your shoulders, it can put a lot of strain on your neck, upper back and shoulder muscles, and these these muscles will consistently work harder to keep your head level. This typically happens over a long period of time sitting at a desk or continually looking down at your smart phone. That is not good! Most people have a forward head and do not realize it. The result is neck and upper back aches, tension headaches and even shoulder pain.
Prolonged forward head could result in degeneration of the cervical discs and arthritis, further limiting function and mobility.
Do I have forward head?
Stand against a wall with your head, shoulder, and buttocks against the wall. Try to touch the back of your head against the wall while maintaining a level head. If you cannot touch the wall do not worry, you are not alone. Approximately 66% to 90% of the United States population are affected with this malady.
How to fix it
Chin tucks are one of the key exercises to help keep the head aligned above the cervical spine.
Stand with your upper back and buttocks against a wall.
Have a slight arch to your low back (place your hand between your back and the wall to verify)
Tuck your chin and pull your head back as far as you can while keeping the same arch in your low back
Hold the stretch for 5 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times
This stretch can be done multiple times a day to reduce forward head and the resulting stress on the neck muscles.