How Head Posture Affects Neck and Shoulder Pain


I just finished reading a great article on how your head posture can increase the likelihood of getting neck pain and shoulder pain.

The article suggests that if you have a head forward posture, you will be activating or working your upper trapezius and lower trapezius muscles. Those muscles are overworking and
therefore more likely to lead to neck pain. The head forward posture turns off the serratus anterior, which is a major muscle in the scapula. These are stabilizing muscles that are very important for activating and strengthening when it comes to preventing shoulder injuries.


Forward head posture is a consistently poor neck posture that often co-exists with the upper crossed syndrome. Forward head posture is defined by hyperextension of the upper cervical vertebrae (the upper neck) and a forward translation of the cervical vertebrae. In addition to forwarding head posture, poor posture also includes thoracic kyphosis, which is when the upper/mid-back is rounded forward and the shoulders are slouched forward. Over time, this posture can lead to the shortening of the muscles on the back of the neck, which can be painful. The cervical vertebrae can also become compressed. The constant compressive forces in the neck and the increases in muscle tension generally lead to pain. Forward head posture can present as headaches, neck discomfort, muscle tension in the neck and shoulders, mid-back discomfort, chest pain, and pain, pins, and needs, or even numbness in the arms and hands.

Many people with the symptoms of forwarding head posture will receive treatment for the pain such as pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications, but will never treat the underlying cause. Without treating the imbalances in the body, you cannot reverse forward head posture or the pain associated with it. The take-home message is that if you have head pain, look at how your head is aligned. Position your head with good alignment with your shoulder, back, and the rest of your body as it decreases neck pain and shoulder pain.

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

The take-home message from the articles: Having a neutral posture, with your head back, and head in good alignment with your shoulders and rest of your body leads to a decrease in the activation of your upper trapezius and lower trapezius, as well as greater activation in your serratus anterior, which is the key muscle in order to prevent shoulder pain.

Talk to you soon!

Rick Kaselj, MS

If you are looking for a resource that will help you end your neck and shoulder pain for good, then click here to check out the Neck Pain Solved program.

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