Neck Posture and Tension Headaches

You're probably doing this right now: Your head is protruding forward, your chin is tilted downward, your jaw is tight, and your shoulders are creeping up. Notice all that tension? That same tension could be at the root of your afternoon headache.

The way you're holding your neck makes you look like an awkward duck. This "duck neck" posture is called "forward head posture" or FHP.

Forward head posture is technically when your neck pushes forward more than an inch over your first vertebrae (the atlas). Every inch your neck pushes forward increases the weight on your neck by 10 pounds. Not the kind of progressive overload you're after.

FHP can kill your gains. In one study, researchers concluded that performing lifting exercises with forward head posture makes the problem worse. If you already have FHP and continue lifting, you're causing greater injury to your neck which will result in more chronic pain.

Symptoms of FHP include back and neck pain, muscle spasms, fatigue, sleep apnea, and headaches. And nothing wrecks your workout like a headache. That band of tension feels like a Russian kettlebeller is gripping your head. But no worries, you can probably get rid of it with a clever hack borrowed from the yoga world.

Push, Pull, Lift, Engage

Correcting forward head posture smashes out all the suckiness that comes with FHP. Here's how this simple yoga hack can help.

  • Bring your head to a neutral position. Push your chin forward in an exaggerated motion
  • Pull your chin back. Bring your chin parallel to the ground.
  • Lift through the back of your skull like your head is a helium balloon. Imagine someone grabbing the base of your skull and lifting it up.
  • Engage your lower shoulder blades together and down. Not too tight – remember, we're trying to reduce tension – but you should feel some effort.

Bingo. Your neck should immediately feel better.

How Often to Do It

Set a timer for 30 minutes and practice this every 30 minutes during the day until it becomes natural. Your neck might feel "worked" for the first week simply because you're actually using muscles that have been sleeping and you're correcting an imbalance.

Model: Adam Scott

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