“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”– World Health Organisation.
We are all busy bees, rushing around from A to B and harnessing the monkey mind. Everyone you meet is busy, busy, busy and as a result of moving faster and faster, we tend go forwards with our posture. We are all on our mobile phones, iPads and constantly in a state of being consumed.
So are we doing the right exercises for where we are in our life right now?
Krishnamacharya (a physician who drew form ayurveda and yogic philosophies) always stated: “Teach what is appropriate for an individual”. We need to look how we can activate the body and correct forward head posture by using alternative planes of movement and alternative standing positions.
Osteopath Guy Voyeur (Eldoa method) talks about releasing and stretching: “Le Blanc Fascia”.
Major Betrand DeJarnette, a famous chiropractor developed the concept of RC factor. R stands for resistance, and C stands for contraction. Dejarnette showed, rightly, that whatever co contraction occurs (concentric) on one side of a joint, there must be equal and relatively opposing resistance in the antagonists for stabilisation of that, or any joint to occur.
So our posture depicts the functionality of what is called the RC factor. As an instructor, I don’t want to over expose kyphotic clients to exercises that don’t require the body to generate balanced RC responses.
Examples of such exercises would be crunches or forward flexion from supine. Such exercises require contraction, yet, due to externally applied stability from the floor, the need for resistance is reduced in proportion to the external stability provided. Such exercises have very little carry over into a functional environment.
So in a nutshell, the result is instability on any working joint or kinetic chain is ineffective transmission of both muscular forces and kinetic energy.
Look at the pictures above, the eyes will always find the horizon, but look how the neck compensates.
The RC factor may increase dental work and orthodontics, due to incorrect jaw neck relation, plus poor eyesight that may be due to constant strain.
If you experience neck pain, strain or headaches whilst lifting the head off the ground or crunching, you probably have some element of the RC factor.
There are lots of alternatives that you can give in both Pilates, Gym and Yoga so that the body is working with space and not compression. This is not to say that these exercises or moves are wrong, just not right for that body at this present moment.
According to the Levitt system, the cervical and lumbar spine work together, so when we are over mobilising or have problems in the cervical, it will correspond with the lumbar and vice versa.
I have done this at Rugby League – bringing the head back and slightly tucking it in; I also teach this on the Reformer both with and without the head rest, by training the full chain and creating length in the body.
This will of course depend on the severity of the forward head and raise the question: Head rest up or down?