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The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Prevent Neck Pain and Get Upper Back Exercise Carrying Backpacks


Tilting or leaning your neck forward (left photo) instead of keeping ear over shoulder (right photo) is called a "forward head."

A forward head hangs the weight of your head on the muscles of the neck and upper back, making them hurt. Keeping the head forward tightens the front chest and shoulder muscles. The forward head also interferes with healthy motion of the shoulder and can contribute to shoulder injury.

The resulting upper body tightness and pain is often given a fancy name of "upper crossed syndrome." It is not a disease, but an injury from simple mal-positioning, and often a simple matter to fix.

The backpacker in the left-hand photo is standing with a forward head. The photo on the right shows bringing the chin in - without strain, without arching the lower back, or making any new problems, just relaxed, straight body positioning.

When you carry packs or handbags, or any loads, see if you tilt or lean your neck forward or jut your chin out. It is a common source of "hanger-shaped" pain across the shoulders. This pain is also common when sitting at the desk, and is usually caused by the same forward head positioning.

More about how the forward head positioning causes so much upper back strain is in: Breasts Causing Upper Back Pain is a Myth.

Check for common activities when you use unhealthy neck positioning for exercise: Common Exercises Teach Upper Back and Neck Pain and Safer Overhead Military Press.

Don't add to the same round-shouldered positioning that promotes pain: The Stretch You Need The Least.

Fixing Upper Back and Neck Pain shows how to stretch the tight chest muscles that prevent bringing the chin inward comfortably - many people are too tight to stand straight. They get more pain trying to hold straight position in strained unhealthy ways.

You can easily stop the bad positioning and the pain. Don't yank or force. Forcing straight position when you are too tight causes as much pain as bad positioning. Keeping comfortable straight head position gives free upper back and posterior shoulder muscle workout. Easy fitness as a lifestyle.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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