Forward Head Posture can be painful.
Pain can be attributed to poor posture, round shoulderness and a condition known as FHP or Forward Head Posture, one of the most common postural problems in today’s modern society.
Some researchers believe that pain can be due to holding the head in a forward position, which may lead to the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Since we live in a forward facing world, the repetitive use of computers, television, video games, trauma, and even backpacks have forced the body to adapt to a forward head posture.
Poor posture is often seen in people living with chronic pain.
According to the 1994 American Journal of Pain Management, functioning and posture are interlinked. Chronic pain sufferers battling with lower back pains, stress-induced disorders and neck-related headaches often display poor posture.
Bodily functions such as hormone production and breathing are regulated by posture, but the greatest consequences of poor posture are reduced lung capacity, increased blood pressure, spine pain, moods, headaches and pulse.
The discovery was made by researchers at the University of Leeds, UK, who found that muscles in your neck have a direct connection to your nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) — a part of the brainstem that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure.
Trauma may be the start of chronic pain.
Pain can be initially caused from trauma, such as a whiplash injury, which is what I had experienced from a roller skating accident years before, an activity I always enjoyed with my children. My mistake was trying to skate backwards, bored with always skating forward.
I had fallen onto my tailbone with my feet flying upward and my head jerking backwards. I was dazed and barely made it out of the rink. At the time, I did not realize how badly I was injured. Falls and trauma can cause whiplash creating a muscle imbalance that can pull the spine out of alignment forcing the head forward. This results in a straightening of the cervical spine in the neck, and subsequently in the Forward Head Posture.
I remember the aftermath of the accident, not being able to hold up my head. I would rest it on my left hand while driving, leaning on the car door. Did you know your head weighs approximately 7 pounds? Something I never thought about— that is a lot of pressure on the neck to carry!
Pain can be short-lived or chronic.
Pain can be a common sprain that heals in time, while more severe whiplash injuries may produce neck pain and other symptoms that are chronic. Symptoms that are still occurring up to six months after the initial injury are named Late Whiplash Syndrome.
The muscles frequently go into spasm and over time, tighten up, resulting in not only inadequate movement, but also compression through the vertebrae, squashing disks and narrowing the spaces through which nerves and blood vessels travel. Fibromyalgia tends to settle in injury sites, weakened areas of the body.
I also believe round shoulderness starts at an early age. I wish I would have listened to the Nuns in my elementary school that would tell us to stand up straight, which is difficult being a shy child.
What to do? My lifesaver has been my weekly over-50 chair yoga classes! Our instructor has us performing a lot of stretches for our neck and shoulder area, I actually leave there feeling so much straighter and taller!
Here are some simple exercises to get started:
Sit on a stool with your back straight and your chin jutting out over your chest. Slowly pull your neck back into alignment so that your ears are perpendicular to your shoulders. Slightly lift the back of the head as you do so, and pull the chin to your neck. You will feel as if you are nodding your head as you do this exercise.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze:
While sitting on a stool, tuck your chin to your neck, keep your chest high and pull your shoulder blades together. Hold the position for five seconds, then relax and repeat.
A shrug is a simple weight training exercise that can improve the neck muscles. Stand with your arms at your sides. Grip a hand weight or dumbbell in each hand. Then slowly raise and lower your shoulders. Make sure that your shoulders go straight up and down, don’t roll them.
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If you were to combine these with a professional massage, or maybe a visit to your chiropractor, I know you would feel much more relief from the pain.
As I had written in my other posts, I also indulge in a hot Epsom salts bath in the evening; the magnesium and the warmth of the water relax the muscles, assisting with the transition to sleep.
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You can read my story here about my challenges living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
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