We’ve always seen people working on laptops and smartphones in airports, planes, coffee shops, on the subway, walking down the street, you name it! So how does this affect one’s neck and does it lead to headaches?
A 2016 study compared females with posture-induced headaches vs. fit, age-matched female control subjects, to see if there was any substantial change in head-tilt and forward-head orientation, during laptop use.
The research team measured angles for maximum head protraction (chin-poking forwards), head-tilt and forward head position at baseline (neutral resting,) whilst using a laptop. Essentially, they assessed how the participant’s stance “slumped” at rest vs. when working on a laptop.
The findings revealed that the “headache” group showed a raised head protraction of 22.3 per cent relative to the group at rest. When comparing the ratio of forward head orientation to overall head protraction during normal sitting, the researchers observed a substantial difference, greater head tilt in the headache group. Similarly, the position of the laptop work / desk setup in the headache group, was worse.
The researchers concluded that the headache group displayed poorer rest posture in all measures as well as more forward head posture during the laptop analysis, than the control group. They suggested that treatment / therapy for patients with headaches and/or neck pain include posture retraining exercises as a significant component for long-term successful outcomes.
This study shows the importance of this and the need to include exercises such as chin-retraction, conscious repositioning of the head, cervical traction (in some cases), deep neck flexor muscle strengthening, scapular stability management, and more.
When you look at a person from the side, imagine that a perpendicular line passing through the ear canal should pass through the shoulder, hip, and ankle. In cases of forward head posture, the line will move forwards of these bony landmarks.
Previous evidence indicates that the head weighs an average of 12 pounds (5.44 kg), and with any inch of forward head placement, the neck and upper back muscles are filled with an additional 10 pounds (4.53 kg) of load to hold the head upright. That means a five-inch forward head position adds 50 pounds (22.67 kg) of weight to the neck and upper back area. It’s no wonder this faulty posture leads to chronic neck and headache complaints!
Spinal joint manipulation is one of the most patient-satisfied, fast-acting treatments for pain in the neck and other forms of headache treatment provided by Osteopaths. But when manipulation is paired with exercise treatment, findings suggest that this paired strategy results in the greatest long-term effects or outcomes!