How’s Your Headset?

Head position. It’s more important than most people realize. Most people don’t pay much attention at all to their head positions. It wouldn’t really be much of a problem if we didn’t spend hours a day crowding into a computer monitor or hunched over a phone.This problem actually starts a lot earlier than adulthood though. It starts when we’re kids and spend hours a day slumped over a desk reading textbooks and writing papers. It usually ends up creating a head position something like what you see to the left. This isn’t even a dramatic chin thrust position. Many people are much worse than this. Over time a head position like this will cause bone loss in the upper spine. And eventually you’ll develop theĀ  hunchbacked look, known as the dowagers hump.

Your head is a huge weight at the end of your spine and when it’s out of position, the rest of the body has to compensate. Your body can compensate no problem through acute movements, but when you hold a fixed position for long periods and do it regularly, your body will adapt toward making this position your regular alignment. Muscles shorten and tighten and you lose range of motion.

Also the new alignment compromises how other muscles work throughout the body. A poor head alignment puts the torso out of position. This means that other muscles are working out of their optimal positions. Shoulders are rolled forward, the pelvis is tilted, the spine is hyper curved. The human body is an amazing machine and will tolerate this for a long time, but it will eventually breakdown.

A proper head position looks more like the picture to the right. And in reality, my neck is still pretty tight so my head is a little further forward than it should be. My ears should be stacked right over my shoulders.

The most important thing you can do to cultivate a good head position is to be aware of your headset. Once you start taking note, you’ll find that you’re often using a poor headset. It happens to me all the time. I check in with myself regularly and fix my head whenever I notice it’s out of place, which is still way too often.

As you maintain a good head position and use your neck muscles, they’ll slowly adapt and become longer and stronger. This will over time open up your chest and lengthen your neck. And best of all, it’ll keep your weight stacked over your vertebrae so that you’ll maintain bone density!

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