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  • Dr. Donald Littlewood

Texting is ruining your posture: Here's how to fix it

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Ever glanced at a friend or colleague from the side and noticed their neck was angled too far forward, pushing their head over their torso?

I’m willing to bet you have, because Forward Head Posture (or FHP as we call it in the industry) is more common thank you think. It is the most common condition I see in practice, regardless if it is the reason for the visit.

In addition to the obvious fact that it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, the bigger concern is the amount of strain it places on your neck, back and shoulders.

Causes of FHP

Mostly caused by excessive sitting, cell phone and computer use, FHP wreaks havoc on the spine through the stress it places on the muscles, joints and ligaments.

In turn, this stress leads the dreaded hunched posture and also drastically alters the way your shoulders move.

Depending on how severe your FHP is, it can increase the pressure on your spine by an additional 20-30lbs.

The Consequences of FHP

Aside from looking structurally unappealing, Forward Head Posture can lead to chronic pain in your neck, shoulders and as far down as your mid back.

If you experience regular pain in these areas and can’t figure out why, FHP may be a prime candidate.

Oh and guess what? If you are a regular sufferer of headaches or jaw pain, FHP may be to blame for that as well.

Early Signs Of FHP

The pain and dysfunction that results from FHP may take year to develop, so it’s important you become aware NOW if you are headed in that direction.

The Plumb Line Test

This may require the help of a friend to report back or even take a photo of you from the side.

Or better yet the help of your friendly neighbourhood chiropractor!

Your head and shoulders should be line and your earlobes and shoulders should be a straight vertical line.

Ideally, that line should continue all the way to the ankle.

If your earlobes fit in front of the middle of the shoulder, that’s a good indication you are on the path towards full blown FHP.

What Can You Do About FHP?

So I’ve got good news and bad news for you when it comes to FHP.

The good news is that, yes, you can fix it.

The bad news? It won’t be easy because old habits die hard.

That’s what I’m here for though.

The Role Of A Chiropractor In Treating FHP

When it comes to the care of FHP, your chiropractor is your best friend.

Chiropractors like my self see this problem literally ALL the time.

Personally, it is one of the most frequent issues that I encounter and treat.

Treatment usually involves two components:

#1 Chiropractic Care: Although it will differ from person to person, a chiropractor will always do a full assessment and treat accordingly with a combination of soft tissue therapy, adjustments and exercises as necessary.

The treatment will be decided on by the chiropractor and patient together. No treatment will be performed with which you are not comfortable.

Soft tissue therapy will relax the muscles of the neck and torso while adjustments will encourage the proper mobility of the joints. Tight muscles restrict how the joint can move. By relaxing them with soft tissue therapy, the neck and torso are able to move as they should.

#2 Targeted Exercises: Represent the most important part of the treatment because they can be done daily. There are many different exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles of the front (deep neck flexors and the chest muscles) and back (traps, rhomboids, etc.) of the body. Doing so is critical to improve head alignment and resolve FHP.

The exercise program I give is individualized to each patient and progresses, as the patient is able to do more and more.

This is the first exercise I give for FHP. Now I know I said that every program was individualized, but this guy is a standard across the board.

Bruegger's Position of Relief

Start seated at the edge of your chair, feet shoulder width apart, flat on the floor and slightly turned out.

Puff out your chest and keep your chin looking straight ahead, or a little bit upwards.

Then let your arms dangle and turn them so the palms of your hands are facing out.

Hold this position for 30 seconds, and make sure to breathe through your belly the whole time.

I recommend doing this at least every hour when you're at work (even more often if possible)!

Bruegger's position is a great exercise for some instant relief, but it doesn't strengthen or stabilize much of anything, which is what we want to do when exercising. So I've put together a little cheat sheet for you on the first two exercises you should be doing when it comes to your posture. You can get those here... trust me, you'll want them!

Final Thoughts

With desk and screen time as high as they’ve ever been, Forward Head Posture continues to be a major, but correctable public health issue in our population.

Ready to address your FHP? Give me a call today and let’s together towards that perfect posture you’ve always wanted.

In health,

Dr. Donald Littlewood