I know you’ve seen it… people everywhere hunched over their mobile devices. While walking, while sitting, while waiting, while driving… head bowed in seeming prayer to the technology gods.
I call it the “iPhone Curve”, a.k.a. Forward Head Posture.
For a moment, think back to high-school Physics – and the lessons of Mass and Gravity.
As an experiment, imagine a 5 kilogram mass (say, a bowling ball, which is generally the weight of an adult head) placed on the end of a flexible stick (representing your cervical spine).
Keep bending it over, raising it, bending it, raising it. Note that there are INCREDIBLE FORCES pulling down on that stick, warping it out of shape with the relatively heavy weight on top. So much so that the stick begins to deform and to assume a forward lean even after it is returned to vertical.
Now think about the number of hours in a day that you spend with your neck tilted forward, your own “5 kg bowling ball” supported by the 7 vertebrae of your cervical spine. No wonder that Forward Head Posture is THE most common postural defect in the tech-developed world.
To counter the neck-deforming forces of “iPhone curve”, there are some neck exercises and stretches that all of us should be doing more regularly. Here is one of them:
While standing upright and flat against a wall (that means your heels, butt and shoulder blades are all touching the wall), “slide” your head back so that it is touching the wall all the while keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
Feel the contraction of the muscles in the back of your neck as you pull it back? Those are the muscles that have lengthened abnormally far forward because of gravity’s pull on your down-turned head all day; muscles that need to be strengthened and shortened to help sustain vertical alignment of the neck. In contrast, do you feel the muscles in the front of your neck being pulled longer in this exercise? That stretch you feel is evidence of abnormal shortening of those muscles, again due to forward head posture and the force of gravity.
Muscle strength in the front and back of the neck needs to be balanced to keep your head upright and centred on its base of support – your cervical spine.
If you are concerned about the effects of Forward Head posture, send me a note and I’ll return some other exercises that are very effective in countering gravity’s pull on your bowling ball.
Meanwhile, this video from a website offering sound advice about neck and back pain gets into the topic in much greater detail.