How to hold your head to relieve neck and shoulder stress

Your head is extremely heavy. It weighs in at around 5kg (10-12 pounds), which is like balancing five standard bags of sugar on your shoulders. Every inch your head juts forward can add an additional 10 pounds (4.5kg) of weight on your spine, so if your head is not perfectly stacked (and it’s very relevant today as so many people suffer from what’s known as ‘tech neck’) your whole body can be pulled out of shape putting pressure on your neck, causing stress and tension, and immediately reducing your lung capacity.

The perfect head position is where, front on, your head is not tilting to one side and, sideways on, your ears sit above your shoulders. This won’t happen straight away if your head has been out of alignment for many years, but following these tips especially whilst walking will help encourage it back towards its proper place. 

Top tips

  1. Imagine there’s a piece of string tied to the top of the back of your head, pulling your head up and off your shoulders. At the same time drop your shoulders down.
  2. Slide your chin back (think double chin) so that your ears move back towards being above your shoulders. Only do this as far as feels comfortable.
  3. Keep your chin level.
  4. Keep your neck relaxed, wobble your head occasionally to check tension hasn’t built up in your neck.
  5. Relax your jaw.

Common mistakes

  1. Lifting the front of your head as this tips your head backwards and results in the compression of the vertebrae in your neck, not their lengthening.
  2. Looking at your feet. Scan the ground with your eyes, with your head up. If you can see your feet when you are walking you have dropped your head. With a correct head position you only see them peek into your peripheral vision.
  3. Lifting your shoulders up with your head. 
  4. Tense neck, clenched jaw.



Kapandji Physiology of Joints Vol 3