Forward head posture
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Forward head posture

What is a Forward head posture?

  • Forward head posture, sometimes called “Scholar’s Neck”, “Text Neck”, “Wearsie Neck”,” or “Reading Neck”, refers to a posture where the head appears to be positioned in the frontline of the body area.
  • Forward head posture is considered the most common postural deformity, affecting between 66% and 90% of the population.
  • A forward head posture (FHP) or poking chin involves increased flexion of the lower cervical vertebrae and the upper thoracic regions, increased extensions of upper cervical vertebrae, and extension of the occiput on the C1 vertebra.
  • The forward head posture is considered to co-exist with hyper-extension of the upper cervical spine, flattening of the lower cervical spine, rounding of the upper back, and elevation and protraction of shoulders. forward head posture may result in craniofacial pain, headache, neck pain, and shoulder pain, with decreased cervical motion range, muscle stiffness, and tenderness.
  • If your neck slants forward, and your head pokes in front of your shoulders instead of resting directly above them, you likely have a forward head posture. This position can strain your neck muscles and load dozens of extra pounds of pressure on your cervical spine area, increasing the risk of spinal degeneration.

Causes of forwarding Head posture:

  • Effect of gravity: slouching, poor ergonomic alignment.
  • Occupational posture: forward or backward leaning of the head for long durations, slouched or relaxed sitting position, bad sitting posture while using a computer or screen.
  • Result of other bad postures like pelvic and lumber spine posture.
  • Sleeping with the head elevated too high.
  • Texting posture maintained for long durations.
  • Lack of development of back muscle strength.
  • Weakness of your neck muscles
  • Previous neck strains or sprains
  • Sleeping with your head elevated too high on the pillow
  • Frequently sleeping on a sofa with your head propped on the armrest position
  • Extended computer use
  • Extended cellphone use (“text neck syndrome”)
  • Prolonged driving
  • Incorrect breathing habits
  • Carrying heavy backpacks
  • Participating in sports activities that involve the dominant use of one side of the body (i.e. golf, tennis, hockey, baseball, etc.)
  • Certain professions are at many risks due to repetitive movements of the body i.e., massage therapists, writers, hair stylists, computer programmers, painters, etc.

Symptoms of forwarding Head posture:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Muscle ischemia, pain, and fatigue
  • Decreased range of motion of the cervical spine
  • Early disc degeneration and osteophyte formation
  • Kyphosis posture (Excessively rounded shoulders)
  • Neck muscles tightness/pain
  • Back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restricted breathing activity
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Decrease height due to kyphotic posture
  • Numbness and tingling of the arms area and hands due to Possible protrusion of the nucleus pulposus and nerve compression
  • Temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain and inflammation

Problems Forward Head Posture may cause:

  • Osteoporosis (and related fractures)
  • Poor shoulder mobility
  • Cervical (Neck) spine arthritis
  • Shoulder blade pain
  • Bulging Discs
  • Herniated Discs

This head position can lead to several other problems:

  • Increased stress on the cervical spine area: As the head is held forward in bad posture, the cervical spine must support increasing amounts of weight. One rule of thumb is that for every inch that the head is carried forward in bad posture, an additional ten pounds of weight is felt on the cervical spine.1 If the average head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, just one or two inches of forwarding head posture can double or triple the load on the cervical spine.

  • Hyperflexion and hyperextension: The lower cervical spine goes into hyperflexion with the vertebrae tilting too far forward position. The upper cervical spine, however, does the opposite and goes into hyperextension as the brain works automatically and keeps the head up so the eyes can look straight ahead. This alteration of the cervical spine’s curve lengthens the spinal canal distance from the base of the skull to the bottom of the neck, causing the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots to become somewhat stretched.
  • Muscle overload: Some muscles in the neck and upper back must constantly overwork to counterbalance the pull of gravity on the forward head. In conclusion, muscles become more susceptible to painful strains and spasms.
  • Hunched upper back: Forward head posture is frequently accompanied by forward shoulders and a rounded upper back, which can lead to further pain in the neck, upper back, and/ or shoulders.

Effect on the cervical spine

  • A healthy cervical spine has a natural lordotic curve, which gently curves forward from the base of the cranium and also backward into the top of the chest/ upper back. When the head drifts forward in bad posture.
  • The lower cervical spine goes into hyperflexion with the lordosis(lumbar) curve flattening out.
  • The upper cervical spine goes into hyperextension with the lordosis(lumbar) curve becoming more pronounced.
  • This unnatural, forward positioning of the head and cervical spine places additional stress on the intervertebral discs, vertebrae, and facet joints, which may exacerbate or accelerate spinal degeneration. further, as the bottom of the cervical spine hyperflexes forward and the top of the cervical spine hyperextends in the opposite direction, the spinal canal lengthens through the neck, which increases stretching and pressure on the spinal cord and near nerve roots.

Biomechanics of forwarding Head Posture

  • In Forward head posture, the head shifts anteriorly from the line of gravity, the scapulae may rotate medially, a thoracic kyphosis may develop an overall vertebral height may be shortened. The features are as follows there’s an obliteration of the cervical lordosis and a compensatory tilting back of the head at the Atlanto- occipital joint. In the posterior cervical muscles, there’s stretching and weakness of Semispinalis cervicis and overaction with ultimate shortening of Semispinalis capitis. The corresponding flexor muscles in front, are, Longus cervicis and Longus capitis dock and lengthen respectively.

Measurement of forwarding Head Posture

Ruler measurement
Ruler measurement

Ruler Measurement in forwarding Head Posture

  • Ruler Measurement: This system involves the patient standing with his or her back to a wall, also the practitioner uses a ruler to measure how far the back of the head is from the wall. However, there’s no forward head posture, If the head touches the wall while naturally standing up straight. The farther the head is from the wall, the greater the degree of forwarding head posture.
  • Craniovertebral angle measurement: This method involves measuring the forward-facing angle at the base of the neck formed by a vertical line and a line that goes up to the ear. While additionally complicated to measure, multiple studies have found the craniovertebral angle to be a particularly useful measurement that more nearly correlates to neck pain and other symptoms related to forward head posture.
  • Another method: Stand with your back area towards a wall with your heels positioned shoulder-width apart. Press your glutes against the wall and insure that your shoulder blades are in contact with the wall.
  • currently, Squeezing your shoulder blades together can help you get your shoulders into a further neutral position and aligned with the wall support.
  • Now, check your head position – The back of your head should touch the wall. However, you have a forward head posture and should do your best to correct it, If it’s not.


Physiotherapists assess you and according to symptoms design a treatment plan, most commonly followed treatment options are:

  • To Decrease Pain – Pain management advice and Pain relieving Electrotherapy Modalities such as Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), IFT (Interferential Therapy)
  • Postural Alignment, Balance, and Gait
  • Cervical Retraction
  • Scapular Retraction
  • Balance Training( If dysfunction presents)
  • Range of Motion, Joint Mobility, and Flexibility exercise
  • Cervical Range of Motion Exercises
  • Shoulder Range of Motion Exercises
  • Cervical Traction
  • Stretching Exercises of tight structures- Trapezius, Scalenes, SCM, Pectoralis Major, and Minor.
  • To reduce muscle spasms – Myofascial release
  • Ischemic Compression
  • Positional release technique ( to relieve pressure headaches)
  • Muscle Strength and Endurance
  • Cervical isometric strengthening exercises( initial phase) progress to isotonic and dynamic strengthening exercises.
  • Strengthening exercises for scapular retractors( Rhomboid muscles, middle Trapezius muscles).
  • Ergonomic Advice
  • Correct the number of pillows used
  • Postural corrections.


Sternocleidomastoid( SCM) Self Massage

  • This will loosen the Sternocleidomastoid muscle, which tends to be overactive in most individuals.
scm massage
Sternocleidomastoid( SCM) Self Massage
  • Begin in either a standing or seated position.
  • Locate your Sternocleidomastoid muscle( there is one on each side of your neck that runs from behind your ear to around the middle of your throat and connects to your collarbone – in a “ V ” pattern- and it’ll perceive like a tight band of muscle).
  • You may find it helpful to turn your head in the opposite way to find your Sternocleidomastoid( i.e. turn your head to the right to locate your left Sternocleidomastoid).
  • Once you locate the Sternocleidomastoid muscle, gently massage it by pinching it or pressing into it with your fingers.
  • Make sure to go up and down the whole length of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.
  • Aim to massage the muscle for about one minute on each side of your neck area.
  • NOTE: Avoid pressing too deep or you might hit other tender neck structures.
  • Avoid rubbing on any pulsating areas as these are blood vessels in the neck area.

Neck Flexion (Suboccipital Stretch)


This will stretch the back of your neck muscles including the Suboccipital muscles.

  • First, tuck your chin in using two fingers of one hand.
  • Place your other hand on the back of your head and apply a gentle force down as you pull your head towards your chest.
  • When you feel a stretch at the back of your neck, hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat this stretch three times.
  • NOTE: Keep your chin tucked as you do this suboccipital stretch.

Chin Tucks Exercise:

chin tuck ex
chin tuck ex

Chin Tuck exercise will activate and strengthen your deep cervical muscles (front of the neck muscles).

  • Place two fingers at the bottom of your chin.
  • Gently tuck your chin in and retract your head backward. At the same time, use your fingers to keep the chin tucked in the entire time.
  • Hold the end position for three to five seconds.
  • Relax your neck for a moment.
  • Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
  • NOTE: Your eyes should stay level and you should feel like the back of your neck is lengthening or “pulling up”.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze (Brugger’s Relief Position):


This exercise will activate and strengthen your low and mid back muscles including the Low and Mid Trapezius muscles.

  • Position your feet and knees slightly wider than your hips and slightly rotated outwards.
  • Maintain a chin tuck and raise your chest up, allowing your spine to be in a neutral position.
  • Rest both of your arms down by your sides.
  • Now bring your arms back and externally rotate them so that your thumbs are pointing backward.
  • Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and release.
  • Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  • NOTE: Breathe normally as you do these reps.


  • Maintain correct posture.
  • Take breaks regularly.
  • Do neck exercises every one or two hours.


  1. 1. What causes forward head posture?

    Too much time at the computer. long time driving. Carrying a heavy backpack. Sleeping with your head too elevated position—for example, too many pillows, or with your head propped against the armrest of a sofa

  2. 2. What muscles are weak in forwarding head posture?

    Weak and lengthened muscles in Forwarding head posture and rounded shoulders are deep neck flexors which include longus capitis and longus coli and weak scapular stabilizers and retractors which include Rhomboid muscles and middle, lower trapezius, Teres Minor muscle, and Infraspinatus muscle.

  3. 3. Does sleeping without a pillow help forward head posture?

    Sleeping without a pillow may help some people who sleep on their front. It can help keep the spine and the neck in alignment during sleep time, easing neck pain and back pain. It is not a good idea for everyone, though. People who sleep on their back or side might find that sleeping without a pillow causes neck pain or back pain.

  4. 4. What are the exercises to fix forward head posture?

    Chin Tucks Exercise. …Neck Flexion (Suboccipital Stretch) …Upper Trapezius Stretch.Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  5. 5. Does forward head posture cause pain?

    Prolonged forward head posture can play a role in numerous symptoms that stem from the cervical spine, including Neck pain and/or upper back area pain that can range anywhere from general soreness to intense, sharp pain. This pain may also spread into the shoulder area.

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