Wow, if you read last week’s article, Paul illustrated how for every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of your head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds. Our goal is to re-establish what we as Therapists call “axial extension”, which is a fancy word for “straighten up”. As you reduce the forward bend in your upper back, the neck is naturally drawn back into a more neutral position which will reduce the extra load on your neck and prevent it from wearing out prematurely.
The two large muscles that will pull you into this forward head posture are your Pectoral muscles (chest), and your Latissimus dorsi muscles which attach in front of the shoulder and then run down and behind and attach into your mid to lower spine. These two muscles will give you that rounded shoulder posture which forces your upper back to bend further forward which then forces the head to move into that chin poking posture.
Here is how you can stretch out these two important muscles to off load your neck and upper back.
- Place your forearms on the door frame with your elbows at shoulder height.
- Place one foot through the doorway and the opposite foot behind you.
- Lean your chest and hips through the doorway until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- Take a deep breath in to really stretch out your chest, and as you breathe out, lean further through the doorway.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Do 2 repetitions, one with your left foot forward and one with your right foot forward. Do 2 to 3 times per day to gain length, once at full length move to once per day to maintain the length in your pectoral muscles.
- Do a shallow squat against the wall, pelvic tilt to flatten your lower back into the wall.
- Flatten your shoulder blades against the wall and tuck your chin in as if making a double chin, so you feel a stretch in you back of your neck. For younger clients you maybe able to place your head on the wall. For our more experienced clients, if it is painful to lean the head back on the wall then just chin tuck to straighten neck out.
- Take a deep breath in and raise your straight arms up as high as you can until you cannot push your shoulders any further, feel for the stretch in your upper back and shoulder girdle.
- Breathe out, but keep your arms up. Then take another breath in and reach up 2 inches higher to create even more of a stretch in the upper back and shoulders.
- Now release that second breath and relax your arms back down to your sides into the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times, 2 to 3 times per day. Best times are after a hot shower in the AM, at lunch time and just as you leave the office at the end of your day.
- When raising arms up, your palms should face up to the ceiling and then to the wall behind you.
Come and try out a massage for your Christmas aches at our Beddington clinic (403.295.8590), ask for Paul who would be happy to help you with headache relief.