How’s your posture? Part 1.

Posture. It’s a big deal! Over the next four weeks, I’m going to be cracking down on your upper body posture! From your head position, to your shoulders. Don’t worry, I’ll be getting to the lower body soon enough.

So, let’s get to it. Today, I’ll be going over your head position and where you should aim to keep your head, why you should, what happens when you don’t, and some exercises to get you there. Buckle up!

Today, if you were to look at most peoples heads, you’ll find them looking down at their phones or computers (I’m guilty of that). Their chins are close to touching their chests, their ears are way past the centre line of the body and it just doesn’t look comfortable.

Taking a deeper look at what’s happening when you’re in that position, you’ll find that the muscles along the back of your neck along your spine, are becoming too long and weak, while you’re sub-occipital muscles at the back of your head and the muscles in the front of your neck are becoming shortened to try to compensate for your posture.

This can lead to:

  • Headaches
  • Myofascial Trigger points
  • Nerve pain
  • TMJ dysfunction

And that’s because when the muscles are getting too long, they try to fix the problem themselves by essentially getting knotted up, creating trigger points. These trigger points can lead to headaches. But also, if the muscles are getting shortened too much, like with the sub-occipital muscles, they’re contracting too much, being over active, leading them to fatigue- again creating trigger points. It’s a big cycle. If the muscle is shortened as well, it can actually compress some nerves that may be in the way, causing that tingling feeling down your arm. So, its a big deal !

Right now, I want you to have someone take a picture of your head and neck from the side angle. You may be surprised how far forward your head is. Now, take another picture with your chin slightly tucked down and your head pulled back. Feels weird right? That’s because there’s some muscles working that forgot what their jobs were. You may also notice how subtle of a change those two positions are, but what a world of difference it makes for your head and neck.

Forward head posture is being seen here

Better neck and head alignment is seen here

Alright, so how can we begin to correct our posture starting with our head? First off, if you’re working a 9-5 job at a desk all day, I want you to take one break every hour and just look away from your screen, towards something far away. This will give your eyes a break, so they aren’t straining, which in turn, gives your facial muscles a break, which gives your whole head a break. Next, when you’re driving home and you’re at a stop light or a stop sign, I want you to do chin tucks against the headrest. You’ll find that exercise here, but essentially all you do is bring your head down into a slight nod and then pull your head back. You should have a double chin if you do it right. Hold each chin tuck for 10 seconds and do however many you can during the red light. This is a great exercise for your deep neck flexors. Now, a great exercise you can do for your jaw, is the controlled jaw opening exercise. If you find you’re clenching your jaw, do this one, you’ll find it here. All you need to do for this one is place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and with control, slowly open your jaw and slowly close it, ten times.

To recap:

  • For good head posture, aim to have your ear slightly in front of your shoulder
  • Take breaks from your screen and looking down to decrease strain on your eyes and neck
  • Do chin tucks
  • Do controlled jaw opening exercises

Let’s get out posture back to normal! Next week, we tackle to neck!

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