LOADING CLOSE

Moving Forward … But Not With Your Head

Moving Forward … But Not With Your Head

The New Year is an exciting time. There is a palpable momentum of society as a whole pressing their lives forward, striving for growth, and setting goals that align with the highest version of themselves. For many of us those goals may be movement oriented – and if they are – we would love to help you turn those New Year’s resolutions into lasting practices of true fitness and mindful movement. If you are new to RedBird, check out our starter bundle special and get $100-off with the promo code NewYear2016.
 
What we really want to address, however, is something we don’t want to be moving forward with in the New Year or anytime … and that is your head. Confused? We’re talking about a common postural problem we want to help you fix – Forward Head.
 
Forward Head is a common faulty posture in which the head juts forward of the shoulders. Often it’s caused by long periods of working at a computer, too much cell phone usage, driving, or generally maintaining a kyphotic (overly rounded upper back) posture of the spine. Uh oh…sound familiar?  Yes, we are all guilty of those habits!

Picture

Why Forward Head Matters
Forward Head, over time, creates an improper curvature of the cervical spine. Think a straight line at a forward angle rather than the correct backwards-C curve of the cervical spine. This causes neck pain, removes the natural shock absorption necessary for healthy spine, and causes pressure between the joints risking injury to the cervical vertebra.
 
For every inch the head shifts forward from the plumb line, the neck bears an additional ten pounds of weight! This can cause muscle strain, joint stress, and place a compressive load upon the upper thoracic vertebra contributing to the development of an upper thoracic hump.

Picture

The body works as a one organic unit. If the body framework (the spine) is misaligned, it can impede the chemical and electrical transmissions of the nervous system responsible for controlling all body functions leading to problems with digestion, illness, fatigue, and more.


The Forward Head Solution
What can be done about this pervasive problem? Well, Pilates (Duh! I hope you saw that answer coming) IS a great way to strengthen the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine – especially the deep spinal extensors. Incorporating Pilates once a week, at a minimum, is an effective way to strengthen the often-underdeveloped core muscles responsible for helping your body stay in healthy alignment. To strengthen these muscles, you first have to connect to them by building the brain/muscle connection. How can you accomplish this? Through the mindful movement and precision training of Pilates you can innervate the underutilized core muscles, strengthen them, and bring your body into proper alignment.  Spending one hour a week turning these important muscles on will not only help reduce or prevent Forward Head, but it will protect you from many other misalignment injuries and ensure you get the most out of ALL your movement activities.
 
BUT…Forward Head is a posture challenge that must be addressed at its source – your bad posture habits!  Outside the studio and your weekly Pilates practice, you must make a constant effort to be present in your body and work on maintaining good posture.  Becoming aware of your posture on a regular basis and identifying causal behaviors of this condition in your life is necessary for achieving real and important change.
 
One of the most effective ways to realign your body is to strive for plumb line posture throughout the day. Think of a line running from the crown of your head to your foot. From the side view, this line should pass through your ear, your shoulder, your rib cage, ASIS (hip bone), knee and anklebone. Try to keep these points stacked vertically one on top of the other – especially ears over shoulders to correct Forward Head.

PicturePlumb Line Posture

Try this exercise: Imagine your chin is on a shelf. Without breaking the line of the shelf, slide your head backwards towards your back body. Try this standing or sitting against the wall until the back of your head touches the wall to feel what proper alignment feels like in your body. Then try to come back to this posture, as you are working at your desk and moving thought the day.
 
Adjusting your workstation to a standing desk, getting a proper supportive pillow for sleep, and fixing your car seat can also make a big difference. With challenges caused by habit, it may require multiple strategies, a great deal of effort, and commitment to correct them.  However, in the end your efforts will go a long way towards preventing further injury, illness, and discomfort.
 
A great 2016 resolution is to become more aware of your postural misalignment and strive to gradually correct any challenges with mindful movement. Keep moving forward this year – but not with your head!


To learn more about plumb line watch this RedBird video: