By: Jessica Lime
Posture is a key element of the human kinetic chain. A malalignment in our body may cause muscle imbalance, pain, injury, and joint deterioration. One of the most common postural dysfunctions is known as forward head posture. This malalignment of the cervical spine is increasing in our population due to reduction in physical activity and daily living habits. Increased use of smart phones and an increase in desk jobs leads to forward head posture and slouched posture. This posture can cause headaches, back and neck pain2. Overactive (tight) muscles within this dysfunction are levator scapulae, upper trapezius, sternocleidomastoid and suboccipitals1. Underactive muscles are rhomboids, lower trapezius, deep cervical flexors and cervical erector spinae1.
Postural dysfunctions can be addressed through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) corrective exercise continuum 1. This program is dispersed into four sections; inhibit, lengthen, activate and integrate. Inhibiting shortened or overactive muscles through myofascial release (foam rolling), lengthening muscles with static stretching, activate the underactive muscles and integrate dynamic/total body exercises to improve coordination and balance within the dysfunction1.
Forward Head Posture:
NASM corrective exercise continuum for forward head posture:
|Inhibit (foam roll/apply pressure)|
|1. Thoracic Spine (upper)back)||1||30 second hold once tender spot is located.|
|2. Upper Trapezius||1||30 second hold once tender spot is located.|
|3. Levator Scapulae||1||30 second hold once tender spot is located.|
|4. Sternocleidomastoid||1||30 second hold once tender spot is located.|
|Lengthen (static stretch)|
|1. Upper Trapezius||1 (1-2 Reps)||30 seconds|
|2. Levator Scapulae||1 (1-2 Reps)||30 seconds|
|3. Sternocleidomastoid||1 (1-2 Reps)||30 seconds|
|Activation (isolated strengthening)|
|1. Chin Tucks||2||10|
|2. Floor Prone Scaption||2||10|
|3. Head Tilts||2||10 Hold your 10 seconds|
|Intergrated dynamic movement (exercises)|
|Ball combo 1 with cervical retraction||2||10|
This integrated corrective exercise continuum is very effective to correct forward head posture. Please ask your Ageility personal trainer if you would like to have an assessment and would like to attempt this protocol. Do not attempt this protocol without addressing your health care provider if you have medical conditions. Also, view the NASM corrective exercise training for further details.
1Clark, M., Lucett, S., & Sutton, B. (2014). Nasm Essential of Corrective Exercise Training (1st ed.). Chandler, AZ: National Academy of Sports Medicine
2Lee, D. Y., Nam, C. W., Sung, Y. B., Kim, K., & Lee, H. Y. (2017). Changes in rounded shoulder posture and forward head posture according to exercise methods. Journal of physical therapy science, 29(10), 1824–1827. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.1824