Good posture, or rather, neutral posture refers to the body maintaining a natural, unexaggerated curvature, such that the muscles of the body are positioned to support an aligned spine. Specifically, this would equate to the cervical spine possessing a natural anterior curve (or lordotic curve), the thoracic spine curving posteriorly, and the lumbar spine curving anteriorly (creating a second lordotic curve). In this very position, the body is in a position to breathe optimally, hold the weight of the body, maintain balance, enhance cognitive functions, as well as increase energy flow throughout the body. However, a generational outbreak has broken loose, disrupting these biological and psychological processes, and subsequently hindering the overall quality of one’s life. This outbreak, unaware but possessed by many is known as forward head posture and is characterized by the head being anterior to the rest of the body, thus being anterior to the centre of gravity.
As this curvature stabilizes, the increased loads on the neck lead to abnormal muscular activity, thereby degenerating the cervical spine at a rate much higher than historically seen. The expected culprit of this abnormality is technological advances, which promote cell phone and computer usage in a head-tilting state. In the current day, people (on average) spend at least two hours per day with their heads tilted attempting to read electronic devices, which leaves us with no surprise to consider that 66% of the population suffers from abnormal cervical postures. As the posterior neural arch is responsible for ‘evening out’ the loads to the rest of the body, this anterior head tilt induces abnormal strain in the upper-neck region, subsequently degenerating cervical lordosis (and promoting cervical kyphosis).
In simpler terms, those who suffer from forward head posture do not benefit from the positive effects of a neutral spine, thus hindering daily functioning. In its most severe form, this cervical kyphosis tends to develop into Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy, which is increased tension between the spinal cord and vertebral bodies, consequently compressing and flattening the spinal cord. This domino effect ends with neuronal loss and demyelination of the spinal cord.
As shown, once forward head posture comes to fruition, it seemingly spirals downhill. In a sense, this is true. Neutral spine posture is under involuntary control and uses cervical joint mechanoreceptors and afferent input from ligament and musculotendinous sources to maintain alignment. However, in the case of forward head posture, as the increased strain lead to dysafferentation and a loss of proprioception, the reactivity equates to increased voluntary activity required to maintain a neutral spine (i.e. more effort is required). However, this does not always need to be the case.
In the case of a 21-year- old male patient who suffered from forward head posture, he spent only three weeks (~5 visits per week) doing–Z axis drop adjustments, as well as corresponding procedures to mobilize the cervicothoracic spinal via chiropractoric. As a result, the patient had regained one-fifth of his cervical curve, which is outstanding to say the least. To consider that a lifetime of postural misalignments can be healed (to a greater extent) by chiropractic care speaks volume to how simple it really is to increase one’s quality of life. Bottom-line—regardless of how “late” you believe it is, chiropractic care will always be an easy and simple solution to helping you complete your day to day tasks without unnecessary pain.
Forward Head Posture and Decreased Lordotic Curvature of the Cervical Spine – The Potential Sequelae of Abnormal Alignment
Grant Tully, B.S., D.C. [March 28, 2016, pp 21-24]