This weekend you’ll be “waking up” key muscle groups in the neck and upper back – muscles that tend to “fall asleep” with chronic Forward Head Posture, or FHP.
Savers are familiar with FHP, an unbalanced position of the head that can wreak havoc in your posture, contributing to kyphosis (also known as Dowager’s Hump). FHP actually causes far more than just this postural issue; it can give rise to all sorts of problems as the body is forced to compensate for the imbalance it causes.
So let’s take a closer look at FHP and what you can do about it.
Forward Head Posture (FHP) typically arises from several lifestyle factors. Prolonged sitting, especially while craning forward or downward to peer at a screen, is a major culprit. Professions like hairdresser, dentist, and so forth also that require leaning forward and/or down throughout the workday. Hobbies like woodworking, model painting, sewing, etc. can also result in FHP. And finally, lack of exercise and regular movement prevent the body from “resetting” and recovering from the muscle strain caused by FHP.
The issue with FHP is that it tends to become chronic. It’s not just poking your head forward briefly once in awhile; it’s typically a constant postural error.
As a result, the muscles that hold the head up become strained and imbalanced, with the neck flexors in the front becoming weak, and the neck extensors in the back becoming tight. The upper back muscles also become tight, while the chest muscles weaken.
A stiff neck, headaches, back pain, shoulder stiffness, and other conditions can then result. And you have difficulty “straightening up” because the necessary muscles can no longer pull the head into the right position.
FHP has a devastating effect on your bone health. For instance, your spine follows your head; it has to, because if it didn’t, you would fall over! So when your body is in a state of compensation, it’s calling upon muscles that aren’t designed to act as stabilizers (such as movement muscles) to do the work of keeping you upright. This means your balance is very compromised, which in turn means you’re at greater risk of falling and breaking a bone.
That’s not all. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the greater your “kyphotic index” – that is, the greater the curvature of your upper spine – the higher the risk for vertebral fractures, even after adjusting for age, body mass, existing fractures, and bone density.1
In addition, FHP pulls your spine out of alignment, putting stress in all the wrong areas. In contrast, healthful stress on the bones through exercise stimulates bone growth where your bones need it most.
So with that said, let’s take a look at this weekend’s exercise, which is a simple move that wakes up those snoozing, weak muscles in the neck and upper back, and “teaches” them how to hold your head in the right position.
- Get down on your hands and knees with your toes on the floor and your heels up.
- Now sit back and bring your hips down to your heels, and go down on your elbows. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
- Tuck your chin and bring your head back and up so it’s level with your upper back.
- Hold this position for two to three minutes, depending on your comfort level. If you feel fatigued after a minute or less, that’s fine; just do what you can. You can relax and repeat if you like, or do this exercise periodically through the day.
And for more moves that address FHP, proper posture, and kyphosis, try following this weekend’s move with these other challenges:
Now that you’re training these muscles to keep your head in an optimal position, you’ll “feel it” when you begin to slip into FHP during the day. And the more you perform exercises like this one and similar moves in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, the better able your muscles will be to correct FHP before it becomes chronic.
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As always, feel free to share your thoughts on today’s challenge by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1 Roux, C., et al. “Prospective assessment of thoracic kyphosis in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 25. 2. (2010): 362–8. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594302
Comments on this article are closed.
My pronounced kyphosis is due to 6 vertebral compression fractures. Osteoporosis is said to be the cause.
The convoluted history of diagnosis, treatment and prognosis is way too long for this space. To sum up, I’ve had kyphoplasty surgery on the fractures that were still “young” enough, and I’ve been prescribed Forteo for osteoporosis remediation. I’m also interested in the Savers program alternatives.
But for now, my question is this: are there any non-surgical methods for kyphosis when the cause is multiple vertebral fractures? I suppose another way of asking the question is: can vertebral fractures be cured non-surgically? All input would be highly appreciated. Thanks.
Hmmm, the image is static (as another writer mentioned). Shouldn’t there be some movement as the image is a “gif” file? I’m having a hard time imagining the movement without your wonderful animation! 🙂 Thanks!!
As I read the exercise, we are to hold that position, so there shouldn’t be any movement once in that position.
I am also interested in your answer to Maryann about the annatto-derived tocotrienol . I have both osteopenia and osteoporosis. My last blood work lab level of Vitamin D was very good at 52 and I take 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg Vita Cost Vit D capsule on alternate days. I try to avoid soy since it is most likely GMO. Since the capsule contains some soy, but they don’t say how much, would this be a reason to avoid it? Could the benefits outweigh the burden?
Just wondering if the image of the exercise is suppose to be static on this page this weekend or if it might be possible that the movement part is not loading correctly.
I so appreciate all your suggestions. Many thanks!
What is annatto derived tocotrienols and do you recommend it? See link below.
I’ve had a bump in the back of my neck for years, and was told by my doctor it’s a “fat storage” site. I lost weight, but still had the bump. Then I read Vivian’s Forward Head Posture Corrector about 2 years ago. After doing it for awhile, my “fat bump” has reduced substantially and I can feel the bones in a better position. Thank you Vivian for all your great exercises! I bought the Save Bones program and will add this new one to my yoga practice.
I am wondering what happened to my Densersize e-book order! I gave my credit card number and all the information and have not received it yet and that was one to two weeks ago. I have tried contacting your Customer Support and it would not go through. Said it was not functioning right now. Please let me know what is going on. I used another e-mail address. I wont give that here. Could someone please let me know what is going on! Thanks