Anti Forward Head Exercises

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Anti Forward Head exercises

(photos courtesy of Medbridge Education)

Neck retraction

Our heads tend to shift forward when we work on computers. To reverse the strain this places on the upper neck, gently retract or move the head backwards.  To perform a cervical retraction exercise, move the entire head backwards while keeping your chin parallel to the earth.  Hold for five seconds.  Repeat 10 times. Perform this exercise with a soft face.  No tensing!

Shoulder rolls

Our shoulders tend to get tense from holding our arms up and breathing into our chests more than our belly.  Give them some love and roll them a lot during the day.  Roll the shoulders backwards several times, and then roll them in a forward motion.  Exaggerate the movement so you notice that the upper back moves as well.  Repeat several times frequently during the day.

Shoulder stretch

To counter the effects of a forward head and rounded shoulder posture, move the shoulders back behind you in a stretch.  Grab hands and interlace them behind you and gently squeeze the palms together.  Resist arching the back or fully straightening the elbows.  Hold position for five breaths.

Chest stretch

When we sit at a computer, we tend to round the upper back and allow the shoulders to roll forward.  To counter this tendency, stretch the pectoral muscles.  Stand in a door way with your arms up at a 90 degree angle.  With your legs staggered, shift the weight forward until you feel a stretch in the chest.  Hold position for five breaths.

UT stretches  

The upper trapezius muscle originates on your shoulder girdle (the upper portion of the scapula) and inserts into the base of your skull.  This muscle is often over used and tight, especially if you work on a computer.

To stretch, gently side bend your head to the right and look up and slightly to the left.  At the same time, grab the bottom of your chair (or push your left shoulder downwards) to enhance a stretch on the left side of your neck. For more intensity you can gently use the right hand to assist the stretch.  Repeat on the opposite side. Hold for five breaths and repeat a couple times on each side.

Scapular retraction

Forward head posture usually includes a protracted and rounded shoulder position.  This means that the shoulder blades move away from your spine promoting a slumped position.  Squeeze the shoulder blades together which will un-hunch your posture.  Hold for five breaths, then release.  Repeat several times often through the day.


Lie down

If you work at home, or can close your office door, lie down on the floor for 60 seconds!  This position will relax the muscles of the back and open the muscles on the front of the body that tend to get tight from leaning over our desk.

Cobra pose

This exercise is the antithesis of forward head posture!  To perform, lie down on stomach and place your hands by the shoulders with the fingers pointing forward.  As you lift the head and shoulders up, isometrically move the heels of the hands towards your feet.  This motion will help create mild spinal traction.  hold for several breaths, relax and repeat five repetitions.

Belly breathing – or diaphragmatic breath.  This is an important skill to master to prevent over using the muscles of the neck.  See attached link for more details.