What is FHP?
Can you relate to either sitting hunched forward in your chair or reaching forward. Both cause a rounded upper back and a forward head position.
With FHP, the head juts out in front of the shoulders, rather than sitting directly above the shoulders and spinal column. In FHP, the centre of gravity of the head shifts from resting over the vertebrae to being over the facet joints and contributes to upper back and neck muscle tightness. The head shift causes a narrowing of the foramen (hole) where the nerves feed off the spinal cord and can contribute to compression of the nerves running down the arm. This can result in numbness and tingling in the arm. There are varying degrees of FHP.
Why does FHP happen?
The following are some of the factors that medical experts believe cause or contribute to FHP.
Straining to see the computer screen
Bending forward to read documents flat on the desk or view the monitors
Perching on the chair (seat pan too long, chair too high, improper chair)
Repetitive reaching forward to type and mouse on a desk that is improperly set up, too high, poor posture habits
Driving with the head forward, chin jutting out, head not inline with spine
Poor postural habits
Tight chest muscles that pull the head forward
Weak upper back muscles
Related Health Problems
FHP is caused by a weakening of the upper back muscles and pectoral muscles that are too tight. FHP can contribute to the following health issues:
Neck and upper back pain
Pain or numbness down the arms
Decreased lung capacity
Conduct a Self Test for FHP
Position your heels a maximum of 6" from an unobstructed wall. Stand so your buttocks, back and head touch the wall. Is it difficult for you to stand like this? Can your head easily touch the wall, or do you have to force it back? If you force it back are you extending your neck backwards to do so? If you've answered YES, you may have FHP.
What can you do if you think you have FHP?
Ensure you are working well at your computer. Adjust your chair to better support your back. Can you sit back comfortably? Bring you monitors closer to you, within arms length. Relearn sitting and standing and sleeping postural habits. Try to keep your head, neck and spine in normal alignment as much as possible. Take breaks throughout the day, alternate between sitting and standing, moving and stretching. A regular exercise programme that includes exercises that strengthen weakened and stretched muscles of the neck and upper back. Perform stretches to relax the tight, shortened chest muscles which when tight pull the head forward.
This happens when we use our phones and devices too. Mindfulness and awareness to change your habits is key!!
Take a few moments whether you are at home or in the office and notice how you are sitting and where your head and chin are situated.
Ergonomic assessments help to see the full picture.
Happy habit changes.
I SEE YOU, I HEAR YOU, YOU ARE IMPORTANT!