Change your health

Four Easy Ways to Fight Forward Head Posture

woman in car on smartphone
Photo by Igor Starkov on Unsplash

Forward head posture, “text neck”, anterior head syndrome… these are just a few names for this common postural condition can lead to neck pain, headaches, sore shoulders, reduced respiratory function, early degeneration of my neck spine and many others. All of these painful conditions can certainly get in the way of fun activities like skiing, playing golf, running marathons, playing video games, adventures with grandchildren, and conquering fitness goals.

While forward head posture is nothing new, computers, sedentary jobs and smart phones has made this condition much more common. If ignored, it can lead to permanent changes to the neck spine and eventually will cause a fully hunched over “nursing home posture”. While it could take decades before that occurs, by the time that it does, correcting the posture may no longer be possible.

Here are four easy ways you can fight forward head posture now:

  • Take breaks and stretch when sitting at a computer, playing video games, or using your phone or tablet for an extended period of time. Here’s an example stretching sequence. Practice it slowly, and hold each position for a few moments:
    • Tilt your head back, then forward.
    • Turn to look to your left and to your right.
    • Tilt your head to your left shoulder and your right shoulder.
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
    • Roll your shoulders back.
    • None of these moves should cause any pain, if they do see tip #4.
  • Try neck planks.
    • While lying on your stomach, hold your head up and away from the floor.
    • Hold for 5 seconds.
    • Repeat 10 times and rest.
    • Practice this sequence daily, increasing the hold time by one second until you can hold it for 15 seconds.
    • Neck planks should not hurt or cause a muscle spasm, if they do, the problem may be more complex than muscle weakness.
  • Strengthen the neck with this move.
    • Stand with your back to a wall
    • Push your head against the wall and hold.
    • If you can’t touch the back of your head to the wall, use a folded towel to make up the distance.
  • Schedule an exam with Catalyst Chiropractic to evaluate your neck structure. We’ll perform a complete spinal exam, along with a motion study x-ray of your neck. With this information, we can create a personalized treatment plan to help you correct forward head posture.
woman in yoga plank
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

YMCA Octagon Lunch Circuit Class: Review

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this review because I enjoy this class and it has a 10 person limit. On Mondays when you would think the gym would be starting to empty the class hit that limit and more. Wednesday’s class doesn’t get as full.

Octagon equipment at the YThe flip side of this is if the class is popular, then maybe it will be offered more often.

The class is 45 minutes long and consists of up to 10 stations per round. If the class is full, then it’s 3 rounds. On the day in which it was just the two of us, it was 9+ rounds. Each round start with a runner who runs 1 lap around the track (9 laps per mile), expect for a few of the faster runners, they do 2 laps and sometimes the runner walks a half lap (depending on their limitations). They act as the timer, during that time you do the exercise station you are at until the runner returns. Then everyone moves up a station, the next person runs, and the class continues until everyone has done each station.

This class works multiple region of the body, and alternates between exercises using resistance techniques, free weights, or your own body weight. Modification of an exercise is an option if there is a limitation, and there is no pressure to push yourself until injury. There is encouragement to try a little harder, to do 1 more rep, but encouragement is not pressure. We all started at a different level of fitness, a different levels of ability, and we all have our own goals.

Dr. Johanna’s Goals: My goals for this class are to cross train to enhance my running ability, and to increase my speed. I’m training to run Gate City marathon this year and cross training is often forgotten when trying to run 4 times a week. I’ll be honest I do not push myself as hard as I could at the class, but one day a week I am doing this class and running 3-4 miles. I prefer a slow gradual improvement with minimal risk on injury and I know patients would prefer I stay injury free as well. The strength work is hard but is getting better.  The stretching we do at the end is a good start, but honestly if you are taking this class plan to spend 5-10 mins after class stretching or foam rolling.

Alex’s Goals: My primary goal is to be healthier, to that end I’m exercising in this class to improve my stamina and lose some unwanted pounds.  Plus, I enjoy working out in groups.  I tend to get bored if I’m alone at the gym and work out less.  Having a class to attend, gives me accountability. Having an instructor picking the routines, also gets me doing exercises I wouldn’t normally do if the choice was up to me. 

Overall this is a good whole body workout class that works on strength and is small enough to get some personal attention when you need it for form or modification. After 4 weeks of the class, we have both learned new exercises we can do at home to continue the forward momentum.

You can learn more about class and other at the YMCA. If you have a gym or host an exercise class you would like us to review, please contact the office and we’ll do our best to accommodate.

How to Rehab an ankle, “that always seems to sprain.”

Simple ankle sprains, the ones that you “walk off” or heal in less than two weeks are rarely properly rehabilitated.  Often once the pain is gone and you are able to resume normal use, the problem is considered gone, until the next time it happens.  This guide is to help strengthen your ankles to avoid a repeat sprain.

Before we start to discuss rehab, let’s look at the anatomy of an ankle sprain.  The most common ankle sprains are Inversion Sprains. Wherein you stretch the lateral ligaments of the foot, or in more common terms. The injury happens with the foot turned in, damaging the ligaments on the outside of your foot. Most commonly is the anterior talofibular ligament.  Typically with these sprains there may be minor or no swelling at all.

Below are some suggestions for strengthening the ankles to avoid re-injury. These are not for treatment immediately following an acute sprain. If you have an acute sprain contact a healthcare professional for the best type of treatment for your injury. These instructions can also help improve balance.

Test for your starting point:

 one foot

Stand on 1 foot for up to 60 seconds.  Stop as soon as you start to wobble or become unstable.  Note the length of time.  Then, repeat the exercise with the other foot.  If the amount of time was less than 60 seconds start at Beginner, if more than 60 seconds go to Intermediate.

Note: For safety always do these exercises near a wall or chair you can hold onto, if you suddenly need support.  This exercise is best done barefoot if possible.

Rehab Beginner:

3-4 Times a day: attempt to stand on each foot for up to 60 seconds.  If you start to wobble consistently, put the other foot down, rest for 30-60 seconds and try again.  You are likely to have small wobbles during this exercise those are OK but remember the goal is to strengthen the ankle and large wobbles might re-injure it instead.

Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the Intermediate level.

Rehab Intermediate:

3-4 times a day attempt to stand on each foot for 60 seconds with your eyes closed. Everything is the same as the Beginner exercise except you will have your eyes closed.

Once you can stand on each ankle for 60 seconds without wobbles move to the next level.

Rehab Advanced: with variations

Start with same exercises as above on an uneven surface such as a Balance Pad.

Variations are: Doing the exercise with eyes closed; holding weights in hands; or moving arms in circles while holding weights