How to Fix Forward Head Posture With Exercise
The forward head posture is where your skull is protruded forward more than an inch over the atlas, which is the vertebra in your neck that your head rests on. According to Dr. Adalbert I. Kapandji, author of "The Physiology of the Joints," for every inch that your head protrudes from its normal position, you add 10 additional pounds of force upon your neck. This not only causes neck and shoulder pain, but also migraine, jaw pain and arthritis in the cervical spine. The forward head posture is usually caused by too much sitting and misalignment in the pelvis, which cause a chain reaction of muscle and tissue imbalances that makes the head go forward.
Overhead Thumb Press
Place your legs over an ottoman or similar support and put a firm cushion between your knees. Place a folded bath towel beneath your head and lie on the floor.
Lace your fingers together and put your palms together. Point your thumbs toward your face and extend your arms over your chest.
Lower your arms above your head until your thumbs touch the floor. Keep your palms pressed together and your arms straight. Push against the ground for two deep breaths.
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Raise your arms gradually and repeat the exercise 10 more times for three sets.
- Place your legs over an ottoman or similar support and put a firm cushion between your knees.
- Point your thumbs toward your face and extend your arms over your chest.
Scapular Wall Press
Stand with your head, shoulders, back, buttocks and calves against a wall. Place your arms out to yours sides with your palms facing forward.
Exhale and press your entire body against the wall. Push your lower back, buttock, arms and head back for a duration of five deep breaths. Breathe into your belly as you push.
Walk around for about 30 seconds, maintaining the new posture. Repeat the exercise three more times.
- Stand with your head, shoulders, back, buttocks and calves against a wall.
- Push your lower back, buttock, arms and head back for a duration of five deep breaths.
Thoracic Spine Stretch with Hip Extension
Stand with your right leg behind you, and point both feet forward. Tighten your right buttock and stand with your chest high.
Lace your fingers together and extend your arms overhead with your palms facing up. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths.
Switch legs and repeat the exercise on each side three more times.
Do these exercises two to three times a day; they should take 10 to 15 minutes.
Never force your muscles or joints to stretch beyond your normal range of motion, or you can easily tear the connective tissues or cause a stretch reflex that makes your muscles tighter. A stretch reflex protects your muscles and tissues from overstretching.
- Stand with your right leg behind you, and point both feet forward.
- Tighten your right buttock and stand with your chest high.
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- Kang JH, Park RY, Lee SJ, Kim JY, Yoon SR, Jung KI. The effect of the forward head posture on postural balance in long time computer based worker. Ann Rehabil Med. 2012;36(1):98–104. doi:10.5535/arm.2012.36.1.98
- Kim DH, Kim CJ, Son SM. Neck pain in adults with forward head posture: Effects of craniovertebral angle and cervical range of motion. Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2018;9(6):309–313. doi:10.24171/j.phrp.2018.9.6.04
- Szczygieł E, Sieradzki B, Masłoń A, et al. Assessing the impact of certain exercises on the spatial head posture. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(1):43-51. doi:10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01293
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.