How Forward Head Posture Affects Neck Muscles

Many of the muscles related to the cervical spine, which is responsible for holding the head up, are overworked when you have a forward head posture. As the body tries to adapt and discover effective ways to hold the head erect for straight-ahead vision, forward head posture can lead to muscular imbalances over time. Certain muscles get longer and weaker, while others become shorter and tighter.

Muscles That Have Grown Long and Weak

Long-term forward head posture causes the following muscles to elongate and weaken:

Cervical flexors are deep in the neck. These muscles, also known as the longus capitus and longus colli, contribute to stabilize the neck by being placed along the front of the cervical spine. When the deep cervical flexors are weaker, the chin tilts away from the neck, a condition known as “chin poking.”

Anatomy of the Cervical Muscles

(lower cervical and upper thoracic)

Extensor muscles are linked to the rear of the lower cervical and upper thoracic spines. The erector spinae are a group of muscles that rotate and straighten the spine. The erector spinae muscles become less capable of keeping the neck and upper back from hunching forward as they lengthen and lose strength.

Retractors for shoulder blades. The upper back muscles of the middle trapezius and rhomboid serve to bring the scapulae (shoulder blades) rearward, keeping the shoulders back and chest open in proper posture. The shoulder blades tilt forward due to weak trapezius and rhomboid muscles, contributing to arched shoulders and forward head posture.

These are muscles that may need to be strengthened in order to correct forward head position and cure neck pain. Also, other muscles may also need to be developed to aid in a reduction of forward head posture and rounded shoulder posture, depending on the patient’s individual demands.

Check out these 3 Ways to Improve Your Forward Head Posture

Muscles that are becoming short and tense

These are the muscles that often shorten and stiffen owing to long-term forward head posture:

Muscles of the suboccipital region. Head rotation and extension are assisted by these four pairs of small muscles that connect the lower back of the skull to the top of the cervical spine. These muscles work especially hard and regularly contract to maintain the head inclined forward and facing straight ahead during forward head posture.

Muscles of the chest. As the shoulder rounds forward, the muscles in the upper back tend to lengthen, causing the chest muscles to shorten and tighten. The pectoralis minor muscles, a pair of thin triangular muscles in the upper part of the chest, are an example.

Neck Pain: Simple Chest Stretches

Muscles of the levator scapulae. From the top cervical spine to the shoulder blade, this pair of muscles runs along the back and side of the neck (scapula). The levator scapulae is a muscle that helps with various neck movements as well as lifting and elevating the scapula. The levator scapulae muscles may become shortened if the shoulder blade begins to tilt forward and rotate up with rounded shoulders.

Neck Pain: Easy Levator Scapulae Stretch

Stretching these muscles is a common way to relieve neck pain and improve forward head posture. Due to forward head position, many other muscles might become shortened or lengthened, and the precise muscular imbalances can vary depending on the circumstance.

Muscle Pain Symptoms with Forward Head Posture

When forward head posture produces muscle pain, one or more of the following symptoms may occur:

Soreness all over. The discomfort may radiate from the side or rear of the neck, as well as the upper back, shoulder, and/or head.

There is a lot of discomfort. If a muscle is stretched and/or goes into spasm, resulting in stiffness and acute discomfort that may seem sharp or burning. Intense neck discomfort can be made worse by certain positions or motions, but it can also be made better by other positions or rest. Rather than spreading across a region, this pain is usually localized in one spot, such as the side of the neck or the base of the skull.

Pain in the trigger points.

Tender, tense areas in muscles that grow even more painful when touched cause this discomfort. Trigger points are most frequent in the back of the neck, although the discomfort can also travel up the head or down the shoulders. Trigger point pain has been linked to forward head posture in some studies, particularly in people that report issues like migraines or other types of headaches.

Tightness in the muscles Muscles can become inflamed and tight as a result of overuse, injury, trigger point discomfort, or inflammation in the surrounding area, such as a herniated disc. The neck may become stiff or less flexible as a result of discomfort and diminished muscle function.

More than simply muscle pain can result from forward head posture; it can also cause pain in the joints, discs, nerve roots, and other adjacent structures.

Thank you for stopping by today. If you are in need of an assessment by an expert, and are in the Asheville, NC area, then we’d love to connect with you! CONTACT us today at 1on1 Physical Therapy.

(828) 785-8388

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