Movement Coach: Get rid of the double chin, or may be don’t!

I could never think of any appropriate use of having a double chin. But apparently there is! Holding your chin in that makes you look like you have a double chin is actually functionally fashionable. Really? I am often asked, “Is this double chin really a mark of good posture?” To which I reply, “Does sticking your chin out make you look any better?” It is like asking if a giraffe looks prettier than a cat with dewlap.

I often ponder on the inability of old men and women to get a good night’s sleep, because of their excessive forward head position. Try breathing deeply for five minutes with your head pushed out. It’s a waste of energy not to undermine the discomfort. Imagine adding 15 kgs of excessive weight on your neck.

Every inch of increase of forward head posture increases weight of the head by 10 pounds
Every inch of increase of forward head posture increases weight of the head by 10 pounds

Human spinal vertebrae are stacked one on top of the other to move with efficient ease. Poor positions adopted during the day move the gravitational centre of the head forward, making the cervical spine (neck) bear the brunt of excessive load bearing. Another obvious effect is also poor balance. The head is the heaviest part of the body and if it is pushed off centre those individuals have problems with balance.

Much like pregnant women losing their sense of gravity as the tummy grows bigger. When I visited a photographer for my passport photograph, he would say, “Keep the head straight.” I would retort, “It is!” He would then adjust my head. “Now it is straight.” His version of straight felt crooked to me. But photographs don’t lie so maybe my brain did! What bewilderment! Adamant to get to the bottom of this I finally found my answer, when I saw my aunt. While thinking, her head moved in the direction of her eyes. Bingo! That’s how subconscious habits are formed.

Since then, I often see people thinking with their necks positioned in the direction of their eyes. This is repeated for all the positions we put our body through the entire day. I might subconsciously stick the head forward, yelling at someone or while texting on my cell phone.

But do I need to do it while talking, eating, exercising, brushing teeth, reading or driving? The forward head posture is also called ‘nerd neck’ as studies found it is formed by prolonged bending forward staring into a computer screen. I wonder if all the people hunching forward are truly nerds or just lack postural etiquette! Even the non-nerds have forward head posture while they use their phones, celebrities aren’t any different.

I decided, I’m not waiting for swallowing to become a problem and life with a headache to seem normal. I have changed because life forced me to grow.

Now, people tell me, “Your face looks chubbier.” To them I say, “Thank you for the compliment, I like my ‘briefcase fold’. It makes me functionally fashionable.” Besides, you may avoid the double chin but a humped back is equally unfashionable!

Wall angle with chin tuck
Wall angle with chin tuck
Movement Coach: Get rid of the double chin, or may be don’t!

Corrective exercise to try to reduce the effects of forward head posture is to tuck the chin against a wall and place the arms up in an ‘A’.

The effort is to maintain the chin tuck along with the back of the arms touching the wall. If the arms don’t touch they will with repeated practice.

(Shikha Puri Arora is a rehab trainer, posture, ergonomic consultant and your support from injury to fitness based on real science. You can write to her on shikhapuriarora@gmail.com)

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