How Much Does Your Head Weigh?
By Scott T Sheriff, DC, Jan 8 2019 07:00AM
How much does your head weigh? The average head weighs about 12 pounds. However, due to physics and whatnot, poor posture can increase that weight to 36 pounds! This massive increase directly relates to neck pain, headaches, and osteoarthritis in your neck.
When you have good posture, your head sits precisely on top of your neck and the muscles in the front and in the back of your neck are perfectly balanced to hold your head there and move it around efficiently. The muscles in the back of your neck are tiny - they are mainly there to make small adjustments to head position and are finely tuned to eye movement. These muscles were not made to hold your head up. However, when you have poor posture that's exactly what they end up doing.
When you are slouched forward at a computer or while texting on your phone, your head sits in front of your shoulders (see the picture above). The muscles in the back of your neck become stretched, tight and sore from trying to prevent your head from going too far forward. And as your head moves forward of your body its relative weight increases. The average head weighs 12 pounds - but when you sit or stand with poor posture it increases to 36 pounds! That's 36 pounds of weight placed on muscles that were not made to withstand such stress. Something has to give!
As these muscles become fatigued, your neck starts to feel tight, achy and painful. You may feel like you need to stretch - but you don't! Those muscles are already stretched longer than normal because your head position has moved forward. When muscles are overworked, they may spasm - resulting in that "kink in your neck." They also release waste products and other toxins that irritate the nerves, which can trigger a headache. Finally, forward head posture puts stress on your neck joints - increasing wear and tear and setting the stage for arthritis.
A heavy head causes neck pain, headaches, and increases the risk of arthritis. Prevent these issues by sitting upright with your head lined up directly over your shoulders, torso and hips.
However, once this pattern becomes ingrained in your body - from years of working at a computer, driving, texting and just bad posture in general, intervention is needed to fully correct the problem and prevent reoccurring episodes of pain.
At my clinic, I use a combination of chiropractic care to gently re-align the joints in your neck, deep tissue work to reduce muscle tension and release the built up toxins, and physical rehab to strengthen the neck muscles and teach them the correct position to hold your head again.
I believe that total physical health can be achieved with chiropractic care, proper nutrition and regular exercise. My goal is to teach my patients the tools they need to care for themselves.