The Kinetic Chain and Forward Head Posture

Like a machine, the body is made up of fixed segments that are made movable by joints. The kinetic chain then, is the idea that these segments and joints are affected by one another during movement and in various positions and postures. When you move one area of the body, you are affecting other areas.

For example, if you have what’s known as forward head posture (characterized by your head reaching forward and away from your shoulders, sometimes the look of the chin being jutted forward, consistent neck pain and strain, and back pain), you’re causing issues all the way down the chain.

Forward Head Posture. Image source.

Your head should be in alignment with your spine, and your ears stacked over your shoulders. The ways in which we have ruined this alignment is by spending exorbitant amounts of time working on a computer, sitting with a slouched posture, looking down at a phone, basically all the things we all do every single day for long periods of time. If we don’t work to strengthen and lengthen our bodies to combat these detrimental postures, our body will reorganize itself to stay in that forward head posture or any other posture it spends a lot of time in. The more time we spend in a certain position, the more the brain and body think that that’s the position we want to stay in.

When the body reorganizes itself, we start to notice muscle tightness, muscle weakness, aches, and pains. With forward head posture, we stress neck muscles (among others) by having our heads reaching forward. Did you know that your head being forward just a few inches can cause up to 42lbs of stress on the cervical spine? No wonder so many people complain of neck pain. If the cervical spine has to manage an extra 42lbs, it can’t do its actual job properly and will end up forcing the thoracic spine to round forward, shoulders to round forward, and chest to cave in. Because of that posture, your lumbar spine might curve even more, causing a large sway in the lower back and a rounded belly, which can then cause issues with your hips, knees, and feet. Keep in mind that these are just the very basic and common issues that can be related back to forward head posture.

So how do we correct this? Start by moving more. Get up every 20 minutes for a quick 100 steps, do some shoulder and neck rolls, and stretch out your chest. Follow your corrective exercise prescriptions - corrective exercises are given to help you fix your movement! Be mindful of your posture - recognize when you’re dumping your weight into one side or hunching forward and try to even yourself out. Follow @tesserae_fitness on Instagram for video tips! Better yet, let me help you personally! Sign up for your free consultation here.

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