The Relationship Between Forward Head Posture and Low Back Pain
In today’s world, forward head posture is more prevalent than ever. When a person maintains good posture, their head aligns vertically with the spine. Forward head posture (FHP) occurs when a person is leaning their head forward, out of neutral alignment with their spine. Typical causes of FHP are desk work on a computer and looking down with your head buried in your cell phones, watching videos posting on social media and texting. Forward head posture has a direct correlation to chronic low back pain.
First, let’s talk a little bit about low back pain. Low back pain is the number 1 leading cause of disability in the US and the second leading reason for medical consultation. Low back pain arises from a number of things but the main cause and the most common is poor biomechanics caused by poor posture. As Chiropractors, we see low back pain daily in all age groups. We help patients with back pain all the time by adjusting and aligning the body, improving the bio mechanical movement and improving the function and activation of the muscles. We increase activation of muscles and improve function by decreasing nervous system interference. To fully improve the movement and function of the body chiropractors do not only address symptoms (the area of pain) but we analyze the body’s entire musculoskeletal structure.
Addressing the whole body is very important because if the body has poor movement or motion in one area, the body will compensate for that lost motion by negatively affecting other areas of the body. Why is addressing the neck and poor posture so important when the symptom is low back pain? The body works together so when the head shifts forward it not only puts more pressure on the cervical spine and discs because of weight distribution, it also effects how the body must shift the center of gravity. When the head shifts forward the body tilts the pelvis anteriorly or forward and creates hyper-lordosis in the lumbar spine. This motion puts strain on the muscles in the lower back and legs thus causing subluxations and fixations in the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints in the pelvic region.
Your chiropractor can help this condition. Chiropractors work to align the body and train the body in proper movement. To improve posture it is not only about thinking to pull your head back, it is about gaining proper alignment in the vertebra and decreased pressure on the nerves so that the brain can activate the muscles in charge of proper posture. If the muscles can not receive the proper message to activate the proper way then all of the posture braces and exercises in the world will not get your body to an optimal position. That being said, this takes time to improve, chiropractors must consistently check and adjust the body to train the muscles and other soft tissues to maintain the proper alignment. This is due to poor posture and spinal bone misalignment which has been present in the body for years. The body must take the positive reinforcement that comes with the chiropractic adjustment and the decrease in segmental stress. Overtime, as the body feels this change, we see changes in the curves and positioning of the spine toward proper alignment.
Here is the take home from this blog. Number 1, attempt to keep your head more upright by raising your computer screen to eye level or lifting your phone higher. Number 2, exercise and move. The body craves movement and sitting for long periods of time is habitual. Lack of bodily motion may be considered the new “smoking” of this generation. Number 3, see your Chiropractor. Your chiropractor is there to help with movement and posture (not just pain), we will align and adjust the body consistently to avoid poor postural compensation by the body and the build-up of conditions before they become painful. Subluxations cause abnormal movement of spinal segments and other joints in the body. This happens “normally” every day from lifestyle. The subluxations lead to dysfunction and stress in the body that will become painful when left unchecked. Don’t wait until you are hurt to help your body. The chiropractor is there for you when you do are hurt and have pain, but it is much better to address spinal issues before you have symptoms like back and neck pain. A preventative wellness approach to your health is always best.