How Heavy Is Your Head? Can Your Neck Carry The Load?

Whenever we work with patients who complain of pain and related symptoms on the neck and upper back, posture is most often incorporated in the session.  In our office, we have a diagram posted in front of our workstations to remind ourselves of the impact of posture on muscle efficiency.

The normal weight of the head is 10-12 lbs with the neck at neutral (0 degrees).  At anyone’s side view or profile, the ear should sit on top of the shoulder.  Most often, those who are symptomatic would have a forward head posture that the ear is in front of the shoulder.   With each inch that the neck juts forward or roughly increments of 15 degrees of neck flexion, another 10 lbs are added to the baseline that the neck and upper back musculature have to carry!

When we use our mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets, it has been measured that the head is 4.5 inches forward or 60 degrees of neck flexion.  So, that is approximately 50 lbs on top of the 10-12 lbs of normal weight!

For sure, 60 lbs of weight decrease muscular efficiency because muscles that are tight and weak to begin with get fatigued more quickly thus feeding into the vicious cycle of pain and related symptoms.

Therefore, the next time you check your emails or update yourself with social media or play those games that keep the mind sharp, lift those mobile devices to your eye level to maintain a neutral head.  Your head and neck will thank you for that.

If you are already feeling symptoms from a forward head posture, please consult with your primary care doctor or any of our distinguished physicians at New York Bone and Joint Specialists or our esteemed colleagues at All Sports Physical Therapy.

By: Ma. Michelle Q. Cruz, PT, DPT, OCS, CSST

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