Tumpline Trainer


The Tumpline Trainer teaches the body to use the powerful spinal postural muscles for optimal posture, ease, and efficiency of carrying, as done for centuries in other cultures who incorporated the head in carrying.  Since our culture is new to this method, the adjustable Tumpline Trainer allows the wearer to experience the posture and muscle control gradually.

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SKU: TT Category:


Forward head posture is common in Western society and an increasingly associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain. Efforts to correct forward head posture often fail because they do not address the entire postural system.  Other training efforts often do not include  axial, or lengthening force and are not incorporated into daily activity and habits.

Inspiration from Nepal

Person hiking with Namlo/Doko tumpline System over the head

Marilyn hiking with Namlo/Doko Nepali tumpline System over the head

The Tumpline Trainer was inspired from Marilyn’s experience using the doko/namlo carrying system of Nepal. Namlo is the Nepali word for tumpline. She experienced reduction of pain and improved posture and balance. She later met with a Nepali orthopaedic surgeon who said that there are very few spinal problems in Nepal compared to the US, largely due to their axial loading carrying systems. Marilyn felt that our culture needed to learn from Nepal since our epidemic of spinal problems keeps increasing.

Correct Forward Head Posture First

three examples of forward head Posture as it is correcting

The Tumpline Trainer is Marilyn’s effort to provide axial loading to the entire spine starting with the head and neck which lead the way for the rest of the spinal system. This is done by first correcting forward head posture.  As with backpacks, loads should not be applied to poor alignment.

Lift your heart and stand as tall as you can, like a tall “T” , with your head as high as possible.  Then tuck your chin a bit so you can see straight forward. You will feel the back of your neck  lengthened.  Face a mirror.  If you see the muscles in front of your neck, the sternocleidomastoid muscles,  making a “V” as you are standing tall, you are there!

I call that the “V” for Victory!  Now you are ready to apply the T-Trainer to the top of your head where you can now feel the direction of where to push up, keeping that “V” position of neck strength and elongation.

Why Tumpline Trainer is Special for Training Forward Head Posture

The Tumpline Trainer is carefully constructed with elastic padding to conform to the head and adjustable straps to attach to the shoulder straps of a backpack, a BackTpack or other bag with straps over both shoulders.

The adjustable straps can also attach to cuff-weights to train good posture and correct forward head posture.  With the head and neck in correct position add the cuff-weights to the loops, with the weights resting on the shoulders. Then lengthen (axially extend) the neck pushing the head high to carry the weights off of the shoulders. The straps with the weights must not swing in front of the ears and shoulders, but stay in the axial line.

The Tumpline Trainer can bear a maximum weight of approximately 10 pounds. For individuals with the capability and desire to carry greater weight through the head and neck, we suggest the Patagonia Tumpline or the Tumpline from Duluth Pack.

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