How heavy is your head?
Have you ever wondered how heavy your head was?
Probably not, eh? How heavy your head is can be the reason for a number of upper back and neck issues. Keep reading.
About 10 years back, I took a course on posture assessment and what exercises can help to correct poor posture. I took this course to add another service to my business and little did I know that I would only do a few assessments before I quickly stopped.
No, it wasn’t because I didn’t find the posture assessment useful, or because it turns out that everyone has perfect posture… It was because as soon as I was going to assess a person, their posture would instantly improve. Now, I’m good … but not that good.
When someone mentions posture, what’s the first thing you do? You stand up straight as if someone just put an ice cube down your back, right? Well chances are, if you can stand straight up with the top of your head going to the ceiling, shoulders head down and back and your chin travels back to level off your head, you DO have good posture, it’s just that sometimes, your body is relaxing into a lazy position. That’s okay … as long as you don’t stay there too long.
After I took the posture course, I started to look at everyone differently. Mainly where their ears are in relation to their shoulders, and do their knees travel behind their hips when they walk. (That’s a tight hip and sore lower back post at a later date).
It’s amazing how many people have their chin past their chest. Check out the picture to the right … Chances are, you see more people who like #2 and 3, and very few #1’s.
As you can see from the picture, your head gets heavier the worse your posture is.
It’s not the looking down that gets you. It’s the staying down that does. Your neck and shoulder muscles get so weak and tight that they don’t want to lift the head anymore. Therefore you crimp your neck to look up.
Try this for me. You can do this from a sitting or standing position. Tuck your chin in as if you’re trying to look at your toes without bending over. Now since your neck muscles want to stay there, but you can’t walk like that, just lift your head. Your brain will always want to have the visual of looking at the horizon. Do you feel that cramping at the back of your skull? All the muscles and bones are all squishing to be in the same space. As with any exercise, when you have to force your body into position, it can’t be good for you. Think of when you’re doing a pull down behind your neck. You have to put your neck into position 3 above. Not a very natural position.
When you’re slumped over, like in picture #3, there are a number of things that can happen. The muscles of your neck and jaw become tighter, so even something as simple as chewing becomes painful. The pinching of your upper neck can pinch the spinal cord, sending singles to other areas of your skull, neck and shoulders. These signals are in the form of pain, giving you a headache that never seems to go away.
When your posture is bad enough, you’ll not only have forward head posture, but also a slumped over torso. This position will put stress on your organs and makes it hard to get a full breath. With not being able to get a full breath, your energy level is also going to be hindered. Try taking a deep breath, when your hunched over.
Being slumped over, your mobility is another thing will get messed up. When you are slumped over with forward head posture, turn your head and torso to look around. Now try it standing as tall as you can. Very difficult!
So … what can you do? Well, if you’re like most people, you probably have a phone near you most of the time … Try setting an alarm on your phone to go off every 30 to 60 minutes. When alarm goes off, think of someone dropping an ice cube down your back. Now, hold that position for about 30 seconds. Like I mentioned before, you might be able to have “perfect” posture, you just start to slump to relax the muscles. Once you’ve conditioned the muscles more, staying upright won’t be as big of a deal. Plus, muscle memory will come into play and you’ll automatically stay in better posture positions more often.
Here are five basic exercises you can do in just about the same amount of time.
(For a complete YouTube video of these exercises, please visit my channel by clicking here.)
- “Turtle neck” stretch
- Wall slides
- Corner wall slides
- Towel pulls
- Chest opener
If you have any questions on what I’ve gone over in this post, or if you would like me to go over these exercises to make sure you’re doing them right the first time, contact me.
If you know of anyone who would benefit from this information, please share.
Thanks for reading.