Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Does treating hair loss really have to be all that complicated?
Prescription drugs, topical treatments galore, laser helmets, and pretty much anything else that you can think of has been used to try and remedy hair loss. While some of these treatments are effective to a degree, unfortunately more often than not, most do not yield the results that people expect. But what if you didn’t have to spend thousands of your hard-earned dollars and countless hours using treatments that aren’t guaranteed to work?
That may sound like a stretch, but it might be more realistic than you think.
Although the common belief is that hair loss is primarily caused by androgens (specifically dihydrotestosterone; DHT), recent developments suggest that the underlying cause may be completely different than we originally thought. It might be because of poor posture.
In this article, we are going to be breaking down the theory that poor posture, as opposed to DT, might be the underlying cause of hair loss. Taking a look at the research will help us determine how and why it may cause hair loss as well as what we can do to fix it.
What causes poor posture?
There are several things that can cause poor posture from genetics, to stress, and more, but the most prominent is the rise of technology.
Although technology has brought many benefits to society, it has also resulted in a posture problem in developed countries. Most jobs now-a-days require people to sit at a computer all day, and pretty much everyone carries a smart phone around with them and (whether they admit it or not) is probably looking at it more than they should be.
These activities cause you to look down and forward, and when prolonged can lead to symptoms such as “text neck” and rounded shoulders. In fact, evolution, as phone and computer use have become normalized, is leading to humans naturally developing forward head posture regardless of how much they use technology (1).
But how does poor posture affect hair loss?
Poor posture: how it may cause hair loss
Forward head posture, neck pain, headaches, and migraines are all inherently associated with one another (2). This is because the muscles in your neck and head are interconnected.
As you can see in the image above, there in an area of the scalp labeled the “epicranial aponeurosis”, which is also called the galea (and happens to be where typical pattern hair loss occurs, coincidence?), to which the neck and head muscles are connected.
When you have forward posture, your neck and head muscles are under constant tension. This results in a stretching of the galea against the underlying layers of the scalp.
The layers under the galea contain many blood vessels, and when the galea is stretched it can compress those blood vessels which subsequently blocks blood flow to the hair follicles. This can be detrimental because low blood flow and hair loss are correlated with one another (3), which is why many treatments including minoxidil, low-level laser therapy, and more attempt to promote blood flow.
Blood is responsible for delivering vital oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles. When there is adequate blood flow, hair follicles receive what they need to complete healthy hair cycles. But, when blood flow is low, the growth phase of the hair cycle shortens and can cause miniaturization.
Therefore, in theory, because forward posture stretches the galea, blood flow is reduced and the process of miniaturization starts. Although the research is limited, there is a study that supports the notion that this may be probable (4).
But blood flow is not the only symptom of a stretched galea that could potentially cause hair loss.
Because blood flow is low, the surrounding tissues where blood flow is cut off begin to get damaged, and what’s the body’s natural response to damaged tissue? Inflammation.
In theory, because forward posture and galea stretching are constant, that means that the inflammation associated with them is long-term/chronic. Long-term inflammation is well known for causing fibrosis and calcification of veins and arteries (5), which leads to more reduced blood flow, and is why both have been proven to be associated with pattern hair loss (6).
As you can see there needs to be more research conducted, although the theory all makes sense and has data backing several of the claims, so what does this mean?
It is an important theory because it challenges the conventional narrative that DHT is the cause of hair loss.
While we are still not certain whether-or-not the theory that poor posture can cause hair loss has any merit, there is certainly some viable evidence suggesting that we could have been wrong about DHT this whole time.
It may or may not be revealed that both DHT and posture contribute to hair loss, or this theory could be debunked, only time will tell.
For now, the best thing that you can do is keep up with your current hair loss regimen, but also consider trying to work on your posture. Not only will it look better and be healthier for your neck and back, but you could also be helping your hair loss situation.
Here is a guide for how to improve your posture throughout your daily activities.
The theory that posture affects hair loss is relatively new, but also seemingly quite plausible.
There definitely needs to be more research done, but from what research we have available there are several studies that back many various aspects of the theory. At the very least, as we patiently wait for more research to come out (or you could do it yourself if you are so inclined), we should continue to use the most effective hair loss treatments that are currently available while also working on straightening our posture.
In short, straightening your posture is not only good for your neck and back and looks better, but it also may be the solution to helping you overcome hair loss.