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The effect of forward head posture on your brain


Here in the studio we have been talking about forward head posture for a long time.  When you think about the way we live now, we are constantly looking down at our phones, hunched over a laptop or desk and not moving near as much as our body would actually like.  Chiropractors have realised the changes in general posture over time and the negative effects of forward head posture but now The Journal of Gait and Posture has published a study regarding this issue. The study compared a group of people with normal spine alignment to those with forward head posture and showed that if areas of the cervical spine (neck) are not functioning as they should be biomechanically, it could lead to distorted nerve impulses feeding back to the brain.


Your cervical spine provides proprioceptive feedback to your brain and this sense of where we are in space is essential for our function and safety.  Poor proprioception can affect balance leading to falls and general clumsiness and links to our vestibular system can also contribute to motion sickness.

The study used electrodes to record skeletal muscle activity and specifically measured the level and speed at which the skin reacts to stimulus or stress (our sympathetic response which is modulated by our nervous system). Given every organ, muscle and tissue in our body is under the control of our nervous system (brain and spinal cord) the results are relevant to everyone.  The significant findings regarding forward head posture included:

  • Upper neck and head alignment affects your Autonomic Nervous System which regulates the functions of your internal organs and controls everything that happens automatically in your body such as your heartbeat, breathing and digestion. Important stuff right?!

  • For processing of information that goes to your brain to be normal, normal posture is required.

  • Those with forward head posture experience higher sympathetic activity (overreaction to stimuli controlled by your Autonomic Nervous System) compared with the group with normal head alignment. When our body is overreactive to stimuli poor posture is considered a stressor itself and sends us into sympathetic dominance (fight or flight).

  • The study therefore found that forward head posture is associated with abnormal functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System and disturbance of cervical sensorimotor control.

Previous studies revealed the relationship between forward head posture and neck pain and its potential to cause stress, early wear, tear and degeneration to the spine and this study supports previous work showing links between forward head posture and decreased brain function, distorted joint position sense (or proprioception), multisensory integration and decreased mental response times for complex rotation tasks.


In our opinion we definitely have enough information to show head posture matters!  Do you need some help you with yours??

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