What comes in your mind when you hear the word “posture”? It should be a physical appearance of someone and always relates to the body position which can make you comfortable. Furthermore, people can simply say that posture is a position where head, neck, and back are in one line.

Ideally, good posture requires head, neck, and ears will all line up with the gravity line, which represents your body’s optimal stance against the downward pull of gravity. Kisner and Colby in 2012 had ever said that a condition that attacks your joints, muscles, pr connective tissue can cause incorrect posture.

Conversely, if you have a wrong posture, it will cause a problem for your joints, connective tissue, and muscles. There are so many musculoskeletal complaints associated with the pressure as a result of repetitive activity or habitual activities with incorrect posture.

One of the posture disorders is a forward head posture or also known as the nerd’s neck. This kind of posture can cause chronic pain, numbness in the arms and palms, bad breathing, and even pinched nerves. The use of certain body parts continually will raise dysfunction or injury on muscles, tendons, structures, and ligaments of the cervical and lumbar spine. Lee, in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science (2016)  mentioned that this change will create a burden and tension on the musculoskeletal system so that it will modify your posture.

Many people do not realize that they have an incorrect neck position. Then, everyone should recognize their neck position by visiting doctors. Nerd’s neck usually happens when someone is using a computer or watching television for hours. Also, the wrong sleep position can lead to this kind of disorder. Besides, these lists below can help you to know what are the characteristics of forward head posture. Check this out!

Characteristics of Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture

Here is a list of some of the main diagnostics of forward head posture. This kind of disorder can lead to some important problems such as muscle soreness of it doesn’t take seriously. However, there are some other symptoms of forward head posture:

  • General pain: pain or soreness can occur in the backside of the neck, shoulder, back, and head.
  • Headache and Fatigue: the worse body posture can also lead you to have a headache. This can happen because when you bow, you will add the pressure on the v of the neck and head. This musculoskeletal pain will be spread and resulted in fatigue or Fybromyalgia. There is a possibility you will feel tired and have an emotional problem.
  • Intense pain: muscle strains or muscle spams. These symptoms will make you feel that your muscles are burdened. The intense neck pain maybe raises together with this. If you get this intense neck soreness when doing a certain movement, you should visit a doctor and have a consultation about that problem. Usually, the pain that your get is located in one spot, such as the side of the neck (it is not coming from all of your body). intense pain is almost the same with myofascial trigger point pain, a pain where certain muscles become more painful when touched.
  • Muscles tightness: numbness in your hand, muscles pain, starchy neck, pinched nerves, etc. The common characteristic of this disorder is reducing the muscles’ and certain body parts’ functions.

The causes of Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture

After knowing the symptoms of forward head posture, you might curious about what causes that disorder. There are many activities that you have done repetitively that drive you to this incorrect posture. Spending time for hours in front of a computer or TV can lead you to have a forward head posture. Not only that, maybe you have done some of these activities, but let’s also take a look at it.

  • Habitual incorrect posture, for example, when someone is taking a heavy bag when his head is forced to move forward and against the balance which resulted in abnormal pressure on discs, joint, nerve, shoulder, and the bottom back. As published in Chiropractic Journal (2012), lower computer position, and repetitive movement to turn your head in the front to read is also one of the causes of forward head posture. Incorrect neck position when you are sleeping or driving can also lead you to have forward head posture.
  • Age, it is said that age also becomes of the factors why you or other people get forward head posture. The research was done by Nemmers (2009) with women in the age of 65-96 as the subjects proved that there is a positive relationship between someone’s age and forward head posture. The older the person’s age, the risk of getting forward head posture increasingly severe.
  • Too much time looking on your cellphone, it is true if people say that this era creates many weird disorders. One of them is the health problem as a result of too much spending time on smart-phone. Harvard Medical School has reported that 7 from 10 people who are repetitively looking on their phones will surely get pain on neck and shoulder. This can also lead to forward head posture since your head is forced to bow down for hours.
  • Other causal factors include past neck injuries, weak neck muscles, improper breathing, doing sports that only give benefits to one side of your body (baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, etc), and professions which involve repetitive motions (computer programmer, massage therapist, hairstylist, painter, writer, etc).

The effects of Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture

When you have a forward head posture, it means there is an imbalance between the supporting muscles and the movement of your neck, back, shoulder, and head. This will make your muscles in certain part o the body become stronger the other muscles. If this imbalance is not corrected yet, it worsens over time as your body unconsciously depends on the stronger muscles you have.

As time goes by, this imbalance power can make your front neck muscles weak while your back neck muscles will be short, tight, and terrible. Besides, muscles, joints, and nerves on your neck and back fall under undue pressure causing upper back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. Rounding shoulders also positioned an extra pressure in the lower back and increasing the risk of herniated discs. If it is not fixed soon, the problem continues to get worse. There is also other short-term and long-term side effect of forward head posture. Here are the lists of short-term and long-term effects.

  • Short-term effect of Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture: kyphosis (excessively rounded shoulders), muscle spasms, chronic fatigue, restricted breathing, temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain, insomnia, sleep apnea, numbness and pain of the arms and hands.
  • The long-term effect of Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture: decreased shoulder mobility, osteoporosis (and related fractures), cervical spine arthritis, bulging discs.

How to fix Nerd Neck/Forward Head Posture

After knowing the cause and the effects of forward head posture, if you think that it happens to you, there are some ways for you to get rid of it. The best way to fix it is by going to a professional health-care or doctor who is capable in that field.

  1. Do stretching on the upper side of your shoulder (above trapezius)
  2. Do stretching on your chest. You can use a wall or door.
  3. Use a sleeping pillow that supports your natural neck curve. If your sleeping pillow too high or too low, you will lay in an overtaxed position and cause imbalanced muscles. Therefore, you can replace it bu using a strong sleeping pillow that can hold your head and neck in a neutral position.
  4. Create an ergonomic workplace, which means it can make you comfortable when doing your work. Choose a combo table-chair which promotes a good body posture and allow you to sit with your feet on the ground and your elbows at 90 degrees when you put your arms on the desk. Also, adjust your monitor around 18-24 inches from your head, with the upper side of the monitor is on your eyes, to avoid you constantly look down.
  5. Stop carrying a heavy backpack. Take your time to filter the stuff you would carry on your back. Make sure that they will not drive to have neck pain and in the end, get the forward head posture. Also, stop taking a backpack with one strap, so you won’t get extra stress on one side of your neck.
  6. Start an exercise to increase your posture and correct the forward head posture for 2-3 times a day. You can simply tilt your head forward gently, touch your chin to your chest, hold on until 5 seconds, and release. Turn your head to the left until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for five seconds, then repeat to the right. Push your head forward until you feel the stretch through your throat. Hold for five seconds, then release. Tilt your head gently to the side, moving to touch your ear to your shoulder, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for five seconds, release, then repeat on the other side. Pinch and massage the muscles between your ears and your collarbone for about a minute. Seated or standing with feet shoulder-width apart, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds, then release. Try for 10-15 reps.