Forward head posture is common in Western society and increasingly associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain. Efforts to correct forward head posture often fail because they do not address the entire postural system. They do not usually include axial, or lengthening force. They are not incorporated into daily activity and habits.
Inspiration from Nepal
Marilyn’s experience using the doko/namlo carrying system of Nepal inspired her to create the Tumpline Trainer. Namlo is the Nepali word for tumpline. She experienced reduction of pain and improved posture and balance after using this system for several days. She later met with a Nepali orthopaedic surgeon who said that there are very few spinal problems in Nepal compared to the US. He agreed that this is most likely 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
The Tumpline Trainer is Marilyn’s effort to provide axial-loading to the entire spine starting with the head and neck. The head leads the way for the rest of the spinal system. Axial-loading must start 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. This all while keeping that “V” position of neck strength and elongation.
Why Tumpline Trainer is Special for Training Forward Head Posture
The Tumpline Trainer teaches the body to use the powerful spinal postural muscles for optimal posture, ease, and efficiency of carrying. We have the example of other cultures who have incorporated the head in carrying for centuries. Since our culture is new to this method, I felt that we need to first learn this postural motion. The adjustable Tumpline Trainer allows the wearer to experience the posture and muscle control gradually.
The TT1 is constructed with elastic padding to conform to the head, especially important during the growth period. It is for smaller individuals with a length from shoulder over the head to opposite shoulder of 27 inches. Both the TT1 and TT2 (without the elastic padding and with total length of 36″) have adjustable straps to attach to two shoulder straps. These can be shoulder straps of a backpack, a BackTpack, golf bag, or other bags with straps over both shoulders.
The adjustable straps of the Tumpline Trainer 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 50 pounds, but we do not recommend more than 10 pounds for training purposes. For individuals with the capability and desire to carry greater weight through the head and neck, we also suggest the Patagonia Tumpline.