Correcting Forward Head Syndrome

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If you spend time in front of a screen—computer, phone, or even TV—chances are that you have forward head syndrome. Looking at screens encourages us to bend forward at the head. That’s a problem, especially for dancers.

Because the body isn’t designed to support the headweight in this position, forward head syndrome puts a lot of pressure on the spine and actually rounds the back. It can cause a whole host of physical problems, and it’s especially problematic for dancers because it compromises your balance (your head is actually pulling your line of gravity forward), projects an incredibly weak and timid posture, and closes off the chest.

The good news is that you can fix your head posture, but you will need to make it a habit to correct your head position. That’s what today’s exercise is for.

The Drill: Stand up straight with your back against against a flat wall. Keep your feet and back as close to the wall as possible. Chances are good that, in this position, your head is not touching the wall. That’s the issue that we’re going to fix.

The correction is simple: just bring your head back so that the back of your head is touching the wall. Think of taking your head straight back; you don’t want to tilt your head up. If you lifted your chin, reset and try again.

Make sure that your shoulders are pulled down when your head is back. You will probably feel like your chest is really open and pushing forward. Feeling like your chest is pushing forward is ok, but actually pushing forward is not. Your whole back should still be in contact with the wall: if your arms are against the wall but your back is pressed forward, you are arching your back instead of pulling the head back.

Hold this position for a few minutes, reseting when necessary. Remember what this position feels like.

The real challenge is to come back to this position during your day. You are trying to overcome a habit of leaning the head forward, and there are a lot of environmental cues (like holding your phone at torso-height) that encourage you to bring the head forward. So, you need to be consciously correcting your posture frequently throughout the day in order to replace those habits. Even something simple, like doing a posture check every hour during your workday, can have a dramatic impact.

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