Even though poor posture can impair physical function and affect one’s health, it’s very common to see people with a slouched, forward head posture. Aside from advice to sit up straight, limit phone use, or hold devices at eye level, are there any exercises that can help reverse forward head posture? The answer: “YES!” Let’s look at five easy-to-perform exercises you can start right away…
EXERCISE #1 Pectoral Stretch: Grasp a door jam and rotate your body outward, allowing your arm to pull back until you feel a firm stretch in the chest wall muscles (hold for three-to-ten seconds until the muscle loosens). Move your hand upward and downward and repeat to stretch the different muscle fibers of the pectorals. Repeat on the other side.
EXERCISE #2 External Rotation: Use a light weight (2.5-10 lbs./1.13- 4.5 kg, judge by fatigue without pain after ten to fifteen reps); lie on your side with the upside elbow bent 90 degrees, slowly raise the weight toward the ceiling, and then slowly lower it. As an alternative, use Thera-Band or Thera-Tubing from a sitting or standing position and perform bilaterally at the same time.
EXERCISE #3 Scapular Abd-/Add-uction: Assume a push-up position (from feet or knees) and rather than bending the elbows (like in a “normal” push-up), keep the elbows locked straight and drop the chest to bring the shoulder blades together and then reverse the motion, raising the chest to spread the shoulder blades out as far as possible. Repeat to fatigue, adding more reps as able. This retracts the shoulders by strengthening the interscapular muscles.
EXERCISE #4 Chin Retractions: From a sitting, standing, or supine position, tuck in the chin while looking straight ahead and then nod the chin down and up. This will strengthen the deep neck flexor muscles that help stabilize the cervical spine. You can add resistance by pushing the chin into your fist while in the up/down directions.
EXERCISE #5 Neck Stretch: With the left hand, reach over the side of the head and pull the right side of the head/neck sideways to the left first while looking upward (pull sideways and back) and then slowly rotate the head left and right feeling for the stretch in the front and side of the neck. Alternative: with the same set-up, drop the head forward (in flexion, pull sideways and forward) while slowly rotating the head left and right feeling for the stretch in the back and side of the neck.
In addition to these exercises, your doctor of chiropractic can utilize manual therapies, like manipulation and mobilization, to help restore normal motion to the neck, shoulders, and upper back, which can help speed your progress to a more normal, healthy, and attractive posture.