Forward Head Posture in Children and Adults
On a recent trip to Pittsburg I couldn’t help but notice how many people were on their phones in the airport. What shocked me the most was how young some of these people were. I noticed an almost 2 year old holding her parent’s phone and watching something. As a massage therapist and infant massage instructor I see forward head posture pretty frequently, which is what happens when we look down at our phones or looking at a computer screen. (The pictures illustrate this perfectly!) I see this most often in adults who work at a desk and are in front of a computer but I have also started to see it more often with children.
Forward head posture is difficult for the body to maintain. When the head is directly on top of the shoulders it is perfectly supported by the spine but when it’s in front of the shoulders it is dangling in space. This causes the muscles in the front and back of the neck and shoulders to work extra hard to hold the head in space, which can lead to tightness in the shoulders, stiffness in the neck and may even progress to headaches or migraines.
As adults we know what good posture is, or at least we should. Hopefully, we are teaching good posture to our children. What I noticed in the airport is that for the convenience of entertaining a 2 year old, the parents gave her a phone to look at. This however is compromising her perfect 2 year old posture. Babies and young children have perfect posture because they have not been here long enough to acquire bad postural habits. I understand that sometimes the phone is a last resort and by all means if it keeps them calm and quiet for another 10 minutes, go for it! When it happens on a regular basis that’s when it begins to compromise their posture and may become a habit to put the head forward. So, as parents, let us please help our children to learn healthy postural habits by observing the good posture we have and the activities we ask them to engage in. With any luck when they are adults their necks will be less stiff and they will have fewer headaches because they know what good posture is and they use it!
Tips & Tricks
Try setting the ipad or phone on a table when you or your child is watching/playing something. This helps the forward head tilt be not so extreme.