How Much Does Your Posture Weigh?

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Hi, my name is Kathryn and I am a PTA at Rausch PT in Dana Point, CA. Many of my patients would attest that I am a drill sergeant when it comes to posture. Although part of my obsession comes from years of ballet training and teaching, my main reason for meticulous awareness of posture comes from the daily encounters I have with patients experiencing posture-related pain. There are many aspects to posture, too much to cover in one blog. So today I would like to focus on one of the most common postural deviations I come across in my clinic and while observing the public: forward head posture or “tech neck.”

Our technology-heavy lifestyle has to lead to an increase in forwarding head prevalence, with up to 75% of people reporting some sort of neck-related pain. There are many possible causes of neck-related symptoms, but poor posture is one of the leading factors. Poor neck posture can have many ramifications including; neck pain, headaches, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, disk herniations, as well as nerve pain through arms and back.

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For every 10 degrees that you tilt your head forward, you increase roughly 10 lbs of pull onto your spine and musculature. To put it in perspective, your neck is designed to hold an average of 12 lbs in a neutral position, so an increase in forwarding head to 60 degrees increases the demand by 400%. Our bodies can handle this type of demand for a short period of time with daily movement, but it is when this position becomes the norm that problems arise.

Luckily, any habit can be unlearned with the proper tools. If caught in time, forward head posture can be reversed to relieve pain and prevent any lasting damage.

A few tips to reduce your risk of forwarding head:

  • If you spend any amount of time at a computer you are at risk! Ask your employer for an ergonomic evaluation to assess your workplace set up. If a proper evaluation cannot be provided, adjust your setup to have the monitor at eye level, seat so your hips and knees are at 90’, elbows by your side and 90’ to reach the keyboard.
  • Hold cell phone, tablet, and books at head level vs bringing head down. You can do this by placing a pillow on your lap and propping your elbows on top of it.
  • See a physical therapist! They will be able to assess your posture and tailor a treatment plan for your specific needs. Remember though, any at-home exercises they prescribed need to be completed! You only see your PT twice a week for an hour, so following up with those exercises help with your healing process.

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Kathryn Toteroh Physical Therapist (1)-minKathryn Totheroh

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