Forward Head Posture and Core Tone

forward head posture can be rsponsible for neck and shoulder issues as well as headachesForward head posture is the most common postural misalignment. The ears are supposed to be aligned over the shoulders which are supposed to be over the hips, knee, and ankles—in one straight line. What usually occurs is the shoulders lean back behind the hips, the pelvis tucks under forcing the leg forward and often the shin back.

The odd thing is that the head is often on relatively straight. When I stand people up in my version of straight everything will line up but the head, which is thrust forward in space. I believe that this has something to do with everyone’s chronically poor posture—we lack the muscle tone to keep the head well aligned and instead allow for an assortment of skeletal dysfunctions to create the illusion of a well oriented head.

For the head to sit successfully on top of the spine with shoulder girdle hanging from it and not dragging on the rib cage—we need a great deal of core tone, specifically in the abdominals. There is not a lot of bony structure between the pelvis and the rib cage, just the five lumbar bones,  so these muscles need to provide a great deal of support if we want to have a stable trunk and avoid forward head posture.

The curve of the lower back exists in order to bear the weight of the spine above it. The stability of the lumbar curve is dependent on the tone of surrounding muscles and the muscle that most supports the lumbar spine is the transverse abdominus. It is not the only muscle to support the spine but it is one that gets a lot of my attention.

If you are sitting as you read this here is a simple way to feel how core tone impacts the position of the head

  • If you are not already, tuck your pelvis under and let your lower back round.
  • Feel the head and try to gently rotate it back and up, lengthening from the back of the neck.
  • Now, sit up tall and bring a curve into your lumbar spine if you can.
  • Do a gentle lift of your pelvic floor.
  • Add tone in your lower belly by drawing your navel gently to the spine.
  • Feel the head and try to gently rotate it back and up, lengthening from the back of the neck.

Ideally if felt a lot easier to move the head into a better position when the core was engaged. Any work we can do to avoid or mitigate forward head posture is worth the effort though the journey can be long and hard.