Your 42 Pound Head
Posture is one of those things that your mother or grandmother would talk about. But is it important, and why?
Let’s take a biomechanics perspective.
The average adult’s head weighs about 12 pounds (think of a bowling ball). When your head is balanced over your spine, this doesn’t create much strain. But, in his book Physiology of Joints, French orthopaedic surgeon Adelbert Kapandji stated, “For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head by an additional 10 pounds.” He also noted that it was not unusual for a patient to come in with his or her head 3 inches forward of the optimal position, increasing its effective weight to 42 pounds. To imagine that, consider the bowling ball. If you hold it up close to your shoulder, it doesn’t seem heavy. But if you were to reach the arm forward and try to hold it, how difficult would that be?
Correcting this posture is possible, but it depends on whether there are structural changes to the spine as a result of long term poor posture. Relaxing some muscles, adjusting or mobilizing the spine to restore optimal motion and then a simple postural exercise can help many people correct their poor posture. If there are structural changes like arthritis or degenerative discs there is still hope! Although we might not correct the posture completely, these same approaches help to reduce neck, back and head pain.
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