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Forward Head Posture: Trouble Under The Surface

Forward head posture gets a lot of attention. Right now, cell phone use is being blamed as the primary culprit. Although cell phone posture is a problem, there is a much stronger reason for forward head posture lurking under the surface: tongue ties. In another article, I have demonstrated how resting tongue posture affects overall body posture in real-time. 

Are Tongue Ties Common? 

Tongue ties are far more common than most people, even doctors, realize. Many cling to an outdated statistic suggesting that tongue ties exist in about “4-10% of the population as an absolute fact. This is about one in ten to one in twenty people that have tongue ties. That is not a small, rare number to begin with. 

The problem is that to this day, there are no clear, consistent criteria for diagnosing a tongue tie. The researchers in this study used speech problems as their criteria. Tongue ties do not always cause speech impediments. Most adults that I have seen and diagnosed with tongue ties have never had a speech problem. The actual number is likely much higher. 

If tongue ties are common, they can be a common cause for forward head posture. Now let’s look at how tongue ties can force forward head posture. 

Tongue Ties and Forward Head Posture

A fascial layer that is continuous with the tongue anchors at the base of the skull in front of the vertebrae. This layer is considered to be the strongest fascial layer in the body. After enveloping the tongue, the fascia continues into the neck and down into the rib cage and below. The fascia anchors strongly onto the inner rib cage, organs of the rib cage, and the diaphragm. 

The fascial tension usually has a certain amount of slack to allow for different movements. Tilting the head back as far as possible will tighten this fascial layer. Tongue ties bind up the fascial layer increasing the tension on it. How tightly the fascial layer is bound up determines how much forward head posture is affected.  

The fascial layer is bound tightly to the cranial base but also into the rib cage. Imagine if you had a rope anchored between the base of your skull to the base of your rib cage. Under normal circumstances, it would have some slack that would allow movement. Imagine if something happened and the rope was shortened. 

The rib cage would not be pulled up as much as the cranial base would be pulled downward. The result of the increased tension is the head is forced downward. The rope represents the fascial layer and a tongue tie would be the factor that shortens the rope.  

The tongue tie shortens the fascial layer pulling the cranial base downward. This forces the forward head posture. Standing up straight is difficult and in some cases impossible because the person must overcome the fascial tension to stand up straight. 

For professionals who want to understand this in much more depth, I cover the specific fascial layers and more in the Continous Tongue course.  

How To Resolve The Forward Head Posture? 

If you have forward head posture caused by a tongue tie, the only true solution is to have a tongue tie release. No amount of chin tucks is going to correct this problem in the long term. If this is a problem you have, I recommend working with a myofunctional therapist that is tongue tie savvy. They will be able to assess if you have a tongue tie and recommend a qualified tongue tie release provider.

Conclusion

People have had forward head posture for far longer than cell phones and computers have been around. Although our habits do play a role, tongue ties provide the internal structural tension that will make one more prone to forward head posture. If you have forward head posture, you may want to get evaluated by a qualified myofunctional therapist. The reality is that tongue posture doesn’t just potentially cause forward head posture in a person, but affects whole body posture

Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Author Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Daniel Lopez, D.O. grew up with a lot of pain trying many things that did not help. Realizing that if he could not help himself, he would be unable to help others effectively, he dedicated himself to finding real answers. Since that time, Dr. Lopez has found a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more. Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine. Prior to that he had a private practice in NYC for 6 years. He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.

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