Forward Head Posture
Forward head posture, or forward head syndrome, is a painful, and let's be honest, not a very attractive condition. It is caused by the head thrusting forward on the cervical vertebrae. This is actually an increasing health problem because of the increasing use of smartphones, iPads and other tablets! It can also be caused by working by unproperly aligned screens (laptops are a good example) or studying where you sit for long periods of time looking down at books or notes.
The human head weighs about as much as a bowling ball, and this weight is carried by the cervical vertebrae. The more the head thrusts forward, the more weight and strain is put on the cervilar. A head angled 60 degrees down adds as much weight as four bowling balls, or 30 kilograms, on the neck! Apart from this, forward head posture can affect other parts of the body, causing headaches, unproper alignment of the spine, breathing difficulties, et cetera.
So what can you do? Be aware of your posture while working or studying. Avoid looking down on your smartphone or tablet for longer periods of time (I keep mine up in front of my face, even though it feels like something only old people do :P). Make sure your screen is properly aligned if working in front of one. Your head should be in a neutral position with your eyes looking about 30 degress down, which is the neutral resting position for the eyes. A cookbook stand is a great idea if you're studying! Try to vary between different activities, and take breaks, so you don't have to sit and look down for long periods of time.
To cure this condition there are several exercises you can do. Yoga positions such as the bridge or the plow pose can help, and yoga in itself helps correct your posture. Tilting your head forward, straightening it up and then gently tilting it backwards before straightening up again can help your head rest lightly on the cervilar. Exercises that target this condition directly are for instance the reverse bench press: lie down on the floor with legs up on a chair (90 degree angle in both hips and knees). Bring your arms out to your sides and hold them with elbows in 90 degree angle and palms turned towards the chair. Exhale and push your elbows against the floor. Simply sitting against a wall is the easiest exercise. You can also try standing against a wall, with your head, shoulders, back and buttocks against the wall, feet hip distance apart. Keep the back of your hands against the wall, slightly away from your hips. Exhale and push your hands, arms and head against the wall. A simple, yet surprisingly difficult exercise that targets the upper trapezius: lie on the floor with knees bent. Pull in your chin and lift your head just a couple of millimeters up from the floor, hold for five seconds. Be sure to use only the muscles in the back of your neck while lifting up your head. I can assure you that you will feel immidiately if you are doing it right!
Forward head posture can also be caused by chest muscles being too tight,or stronger than muscles in the neck and upper back, so it can be a good idea to stretch them regularly as well as doing the exercises for strengthening the neck.
Do you have experience of curing forward head postures? Or do you have other suggestions for curing it?
Sources (among others): http://www.livestrong.com/article/197705-exercises-to-correct-forward-neck-posture/, http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=6022941