Recently, while talking to a doctor, the idea of this article came to me when he said, “Most people don’t even know what the anterior longitudinal ligament is, let alone the fact that it is often both a major cause of – and the secret to curing – forward head posture (FHP).”

Ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue that link two or more bones, cartilages, or other structures together. The anterior longitudinal ligament extends down the front of the spine from the base of the skull to the sacrum. Similarly, the posterior longitudinal ligament travels the same path down the back of the spine. Both ligaments are about one-inch wide. They connect the individual vertebrae to the outside portion of their respective discs and act as the primary stabilizers of the spine.

Forward head posture, also referred to as FHP, is a condition that occurs when the head and neck protrude too far in front of the body due to tight or weak muscles and poor postural habits.

As the chin and head slowly begin to shift forward, the muscles tighten to help support this new head position. Any natural movement of the neck becomes increasingly more difficult, making it harder for the head to go back to the correct position. FHP can lead to pain, headaches and even pinched nerves.

Gravity, too, gets its share of the blame because it causes the head to tilt, bring it closer to the chest, instead of down into the vertebrae upon which it should be resting. In response, the eyes and face are now forced in a downward position. This misalignment is compounded because the brain automatically centers the eyes ahead of the body, forcing the head to crane upward.

As the spine strains to bear the off-balanced weight of the head, the anterior longitudinal ligament becomes overly tight and inflexible while the posterior longitudinal ligament becomes weak and overly stretched. Untreated, FHP can be extremely painful and debilitating.

If you suspect you have FHP, talk to your doctor.

In the meantime, massage and active stretching and strengthening offers pain relief and can even help correct the problem. Call today to schedule your next session!

About the Author:

Libby Winterhalter LMT Anchor Wellness Cincinnati Ohio

Libby Winterhalter, licensed massage therapist (LMT), has been in private practice since July 2004. She graduated from SHI Integrative Medical Massage School, then located in Lebanon, Ohio. Prior to that, she received a Bachelor of Art’s degree in Communications along with a minor in Religious Studies from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 2001. Libby has also worked both in the corporate world and she served as a Journalist for the United States Navy for 22 years, from which she is now retired. She is an active member of the American Bodyworkers and Massage Professionals Association (ABMP).

Libby naturally blends both medical-based treatments and holistic therapies offering a more effective and comprehensive experience. Each session is specifically tailored to that client using one or more of the following techniques: therapeutic massage, Swedish (relaxation) massage, sports massage, Active Isolated Stretching – considered to be both a neuromuscular and myofascial release technique – Trigger Point Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy and more.

Libby has worked extensively with clients dealing with chronic pain, strains and sprains, compromised joints, spinal fusion(s), temporomandibular disorder, scar tissue, migraines, whiplash, digestive issues, plantar fasciitis and other foot-related pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, failure-to-thrive syndrome, pregnancy, cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease), sports-related injuries and severe injuries resulting from other accidents.
Thankfully, not all of Libby’s clients are facing life-altering issues. One client tells her she keeps him feeling younger than his years. Another client says Libby keeps her out of pain, while someone else tells her that she offers a necessary reprieve from the stressors of the world.
Libby is looking forward to expanding her practice and working with such an accomplished group of healthcare providers.