Did you notice that your head is always leaning forward?
Perhaps it is what “feels normal” and comfortable to you, but it is actually far from it! But don’t worry as there are ways to fix it.
Most people suffer from forward head posture in varying degree which is not surprising at all since so much time is spent focusing on things in front of us like phones, computers, and books.
The neck flexion that comes with a forward head posture puts a lot of stress on your spine and can cause stiffness and even pain in neck and back.
How long does it take to correct forward head posture?
The super short answer is that it can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months depending on:
- the severity of your issue, and
- how much effort you are putting in
(Sorry, no easy answer)
In extreme cases, it might not even be fully reversible.
Below I am going to give you an in-depth explanation and answer, but first, let me briefly talk about the major issue with maintaining this kind of posture.
Unnecessary Stress On Your Spine
If you are reading this on your mobile phone, tablet or a laptop you are most likely flexing your neck downwards.
Add that to your poor posture and we are quickly talking about some serious neck flexion.
Researchers estimate that most people spend on average two hours a day leaning over their mobile phones or tablets.
Here is a cool way to show the amount of stress this puts on your spine and the muscle tissue supporting it.
An adult head weighs around 4-5 kg on average and when the head is in a normal position the “load” you are carrying is equal to that.
As your head leans forward and the angle between head and spine increases so does the added stress on the spine which can be described like this:
- At the angle of 15 degrees the load is equivalent to 12 kg😱
- At the angle of 30 degrees the load is equivalent to 18 kg😱
- At the angle of 45 degrees the load is equivalent to 22 kg😱
- At the angle of 60 degrees the load is equivalent to 27 kg😱
This highly stressing position also affects the curvature of your spine and can in the worst case lead to permanent physical changes putting you at risk of injury and pain
So, if you are reading this on your mobile phone with poor posture, ask yourself how many times you think you have this position every day and do the math.
Perhaps it is time to improve things!
A General Idea Of How Long It Takes To Fix
As mentioned in the beginning, how long it takes to fix obviously depends on the severity of your problem, how long you have had it and the effort you are putting into fixing it.
A scary fact to take note of is that if your problem has lasted for a long time and led to physical changes in your spine you can most likely never return to a 100 % “normal posture”.
However, no matter how poor your head posture is now it can always become much better.
I have been reading things all over the internet and even talked with an acquaintance who is very soon to graduate as a medical doctor to get a good feeling of how long it takes to fix poor head posture.
What I have come to understand is that if you commit to improving your head posture you might feel a bit better after a few days. You might even feel a small degree of relief after the first few exercises.
But, it will probably take weeks of continues work on your posture before you see noticeable improvements.
To fully “correct” your head posture it could take months and if your problem is severe it could take many months.
But as a way of encouraging you, I would say that once you have admitted to having a problem and commit to change for the better, then you are already on the right track 🙂
Negative Effects Of Forward Head Posture
Stiffness and pain in the neck and back are common effects of poor head posture.
If you are often sore around the neck after a long session of work/study sitting at a desk you probably know what I am talking about.
But in bad cases, it can even cause muscle pain, headaches and dizziness
There is also an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that poor posture such as a forward head can affect your mood and brain function in negative ways. Mostly it has something to do with increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
If you are exercising, for example doing weight training (which I think is a great idea) you are at higher risk to get injured
Interestingly enough, the back pain that can occur from a forward head posture is not necessarily in the upper back. Because of each spinal muscle and ligament affects each other pain can manifest in not so obvious places.
In the more extreme cases, it can even lead to pain such as your chest.
How To Fix Forward Head Posture
As the old saying goes: There is more than one way to skin a cat.
(I like this one because its meaning is so clear yet implies something very disturbing).
There are many exercises you can perform that can correct your poor head posture.
What performing these exercises need to achieve is to more or less:
- strengthen underused muscles in the back of your neck, and
- stretch tight muscles in front of the neck.
But you are unlikely to get great results if you do not also train yourself to maintain a better posture in general. You could say that posture is not really something you have, but it is something that you maintain.
So, you will want to maintain a neutral spine position as much as possible.
If you are using a phone or tablet this means it has to go all the way up to your eyes. And the computer screen should be in a position more or less horizontal to your eyes when sitting in an upright position with shoulders pulled back and down.
It is unrealistic to do all the time, but if you can do this progressively more and more and in the end maintain such a position most of the time, then you are in great shape.
And also much less likely to experience pain in the future.
If you are used to slouching it can be very tough and you might want to buy a so-called posture corrector.
You can check out a buyer’s guide I wrote here.
5 Easy Exercises To Fix Poor Head Posture
These exercises can work really well to fix your poor posture, but keep in mind you need to perform them MANY times over a long period.
For fast improvements, you should all do exercises daily or even twice a day.
1. “Glued” To The Wall
Stand with your back glued to a wall. In this position, you easily notice how forward your head is leaning.
Pull your shoulders back and have your shoulder blades touching the wall. Now while maintaining that position pull your head back so it is aligned properly and hold that position for 1-3 minutes.
This both strengthens the weak muscles and stretches the tight muscles while also familiarising you with correct head posture.
Another thing you can while in that position is to tuck/squeeze your chin downwards. This works the muscles in the back of your neck. Repeat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps
2. Book On Top Of Your Head
Walk slowly with a book on top of your head. Use a heavier one, but don’t go walking around the house with an entire stack of encyclopedias and be careful not to drop the book.
If it drops, you start from the beginning. This might sound stupid but it works! Slowly work your way up to 3 sets of 45-60 seconds.
3. Stretch Neck
Stretch each side of your neck by grabbing the side of your head with the hand from the opposite side and pull your head gently to the side.
Do 3 sets of 20-30 seconds.
4. Massage Front Of Neck
Gently massage the thin muscles on each side of your throat. While massaging you can turn your head a bit to the opposite side.
5. Strech Chest
Very often forward head posture is accompanied and reinforced by tight chest muscles which also causes rounded shoulder. So stretching those tight pecs is a really good idea.
The standing door stretch is my favorite to stretch the pecs.
Using any wall corner or doorway, put your right palm and forearm against one side of the corner/doorway at a 90 degrees angle with the elbow.
Now gently lean into it until you feel a good stretch. Remember to keep good posture while doing it.
Awesome Video On How To Fix Forward Head Posture
Check out this awesome youtube video by Jeremy Ethier. I like to do the stretches you see in the video, but they are a little bit hard to explain with the written word.
Comprehensive Program To Fix Forward Head Posture
If you are looking for a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to fix your forward head posture, then I can recommend a popular program by Rick Kaselj.
Rick Kaselj is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist. He has worked with many clients and helped solved pains and aches of thousands of people both in person when treating clients and through his online teachings.
He got a great blog and a youtube channel and sell a few programs at a very affordable price. Usually around 10 dollars.
He is among others famous for his method called “sequential-flow”, which is essentially about using the right exercises in the right sequence for maximizing its positive effect.
You can check out the program here.
He is truly an expert in fitness, health, and human anatomy and is because of that highly sought after by fitness professionals.
The Bottom Line
How long it takes to correct your forward head posture depends on the severity of the problem.
You might experience somewhat relief after a first few times but is likely to take weeks before noticing anything significant. And it could take months before it is really good again.
In addition to this, you need to learn how to maintain good posture throughout the day every day. E.g. the way you sleep can have a big effect on your head posture.
This can be very difficult in the beginning as it always is when you have to change habitual actions or thoughts.
I think perfection is unrealistic and probably unnecessary, but most of us could probably feel a lot better if we improve our head posture.