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Where is Your Head?



It seems like wherever you go,  the store, the airport, walking down the sidewalk, work, school, and even while driving we see people or we ourselves are looking down at our phones or at our computers. While one might argue sociological to psychosocial problems with this, today, we will focus on the anatomical and physiological concerns and effects this may be having on our bodies.


It is not the looking down that is the problem, well unless you are walking and not paying attention.  Rather, it is the constant posture and the cumulative effects.  If you look down at your phone a few times a day for a minute or two probably not a big deal.   However, if you find that you look down at your phone for long periods of time to watch videos, scroll through social media, read emails, etc., and find you struggle with feelings of neck and shoulder discomfort, jaw issues, or headaches, this posture may be contributing. 



Here a few things research and clinical experience has shown that the forward head posture (especially prolonged time looking at screens can contribute to:


  • Decreased balance both static and dynamic as the forward head posture shifts the body's center of gravity.

  • Decreases optimal breathing due to anatomical changes of the air passage

  • Create muscle imbalances in your jaw, neck, shouders and mid back.   This position overstretches muscles that control the tongue, while shortening and tightening muscles of the upper neck and creating a compensation response along the rest of the spine.

  • Decreased ability to dissociate the the eyes movement from head movement. When muscles don't move due to staring at a small screens (as in the muscles that control eye movement) other larger muscles like those of the neck will start to make up for the lack of movement to perform a task like looking right or left instead of must moving your eyes you move your head.  

  • Decreased ability to move the head separtely from trunk/shoulder movement.  Due to the many muscle attachments that extend from the head and neck to the shoulder and rib cage the forward head position can cause muscle imbalance, stretching some out so they cannot activate as needed and tightening others so they do not have optimal length for full movement.

If you feel that you spend a great deal of time looking down at your sceen phone or computer and struggling with tightness or discomfort in you neck, shoulders, upper back or headaches hopefully this explains why.

 

Technology is not going away.  So what can you do to help?


1. Hold you phone at eye level.

2. Create a computer set up where the screen is up higher, not too high so you have to look up at it, though.

3. Take breaks and move.  This includes moving your eyes.

4. Use gentle self-traction to help relieve tension in your neck (see below)




5. Monitor other activities for this posture like exercise, eating, driving, etc.


The forward head posture can have some pretty detrimental effects.  If you feel that you benefit from some personal recommendations for your posture, reach out.  We can help.

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