Common Walking Problems  Part 6 of 6 – From Forward Head to Lifted & Aligned 

June 20, 2018  by Dr. Suki Munsell

Want to age more gracefully, keep your mind sharper and prevent a range of problems? Correct Forward Head, the 6th Common Walking Problem, to maximize the benefits you get from daily walking.  With every step you can transform walking problems into walking solutions.

6.  Forward Head? Lift and align your head, neck, and shoulders for a more youthful appearance.

The Problem: Cell phone use, computing, and driving can all contribute to poor posture and Forward Head. The problem has become so common that airline seats and car seats now have headrests built to support Forward Head. Many people need a thick pillow beneath their head and neck when sleeping at night.  We observe forward head when watching our children play video games or when they strain with the burden of a  heavily loaded backpack.

A range of problems result when neck, shoulder, and back muscles overwork to hold up a 10-12 pound head positioned forward of your torso. Strain builds in your eyes, jaw, and neck. Circulation to your brain is reduced. Over time, a  rounded back, sunken chest, and shallow breathing develop. Energy flow is constrained and your body ages prematurely.

Somatic Benefits:  Forward Head shrinks awareness down to what’s just in front of your face. Changing to Lifted & Aligned shifts consciousness from self-absorption to greater awareness of one’s surroundings, including other people and nature. It’s easier to quiet the mind and feel relaxed. Some people feel less headstrong.

The Solution: Correcting Forward Head begins with repositioning your shoulders to create more space for your neck and head to realign. The exercise below will help you build better posture by using a wall to improve your alignment.

Exercise:  Standing Shirt-Pull against a Wall

  • Stand with your back against a wall, head level, heels 4-6 inches in front of the wall, knees slightly bent, buttocks relaxed.
  • Gently press both shoulders, both hips, and the back of your head against the wall with equal pressure. (Your low back keeps its normal curve – don’t flatten against the wall.)
  • Keep your head level, eyes at the horizon, back against the wall, as you roll your shoulders up, then back and down bringing your shoulder blades closer together. Repeat 5 times – each time allowing your neck to elongate and reposition closer to the wall. (Resist pulling in your chin; your head remains level.)
  • Reach your arms overhead to lengthen your torso. Keep your palms facing forward as you slide your arms downward against the wall toward your sides. Repeat 5 times – each time resettling your shoulders back and downward, neck positioned closer to the wall.
  • Step away from the wall and notice how you feel. Do you feel taller?
  • Standing tall, reach your arms over head and lower them to your sides keeping your hands in your peripheral vision with your palms forward. Once your pinkie fingers have touched the sides of your legs, turn your wrists for a more natural position while keeping your shoulders back and down.
  • Repeat 5 times –  reaching your arms overhead then lowering with palms forward in your peripheral vision, finally turning at the wrists. Each time as your shoulder girdle rolls back and down, your shoulder blades come a bit closer together. You are building back strength to support your new Lifted & Aligned posture.
  • Take your new posture for a walk.  To continue rebuilding your shoulder, neck and head alignment, for several minutes, repeat the exercise we did above –  reach your arms overhead and lower them in your peripheral vision.

More Ideas: Remember, the longer you’ve had Forward Head, the longer it will take to make the change. By achieving Lifted & Aligned you’ll look younger, have more energy, and feel better. These ideas will support your progress.

  • Ask someone to take a picture of you from the side so you can see the issue, then record your progress with follow-up photos to keep you motivated.
  • Gradually reduce the thickness of your pillow so progress continues during sleep. Some people like to use a soft neck roll.
  • Sit tall at your computer to support your new Aligned Head posture.
  • If your car headrest pushes your head forward, adjust so your posture remains tall.