Did your mother (or your chiropractor!) ever tell you to stand up straight and stop slouching? Most of us have been scolded for poor posture at one time or another, but we still don’t really make the connection between good posture and health. Why does matter? And what exactly is good posture?
Think about how the human body evolved and what it was designed for. The spine has 4 curves to support an upright position. It was designed to be stable and strong so that our arms and legs could have a lot of movement and perform a variety of tasks. Each of the spinal vertebrae (the bones which make up your spine) have a specific movement and direction, which allows us to bend, stoop and crouch. The mechanical relationship between these vertebrae is extremely important because it is through this relationship that we are able to perfectly distribute the forces and weight of the body without injury.
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY POOR POSTURE
Having poor posture places stresses on the spine that it was not designed for. It increases the stress and strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of our body. This leads to degeneration (arthritis) and injury (All bad stuff!).
Poor posture is usually the primary cause for headaches, neck pain, low back pain, shoulder and hip problems. It also affects the way you breathe, how well you sleep, and your overall energy and fatigue levels.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP POOR POSTURE?
Poor posture is the result of cumulative bad habits in which the body adapts to prolonged positions, repetitive movements, gravity, and the patterns of our modern lifestyle. Think about the positions you place your body in every day and how much time you spend in those positions. What does your spine look like in your every day life?
SO WHAT IS GOOD POSTURE?
Your spine is strong and stable when you practice healthy posture. When your body is aligned properly, it is balanced and supported.
The basic concept is this:
- Sit and stand in the way that the body was designed.
- Make sure that the movement and stress on the body is equal = front to back, and left to right.
- Keep your ears in line with your shoulders, which should be in line with your hips, which should be in line with your ankles.
Some cues for you during the day:
- Keep your head on top of your body.
- Having a forward head posture of 1” increases the strain on your neck by 10lbs. Your head usually weighs about 10lbs, so doubling that gives makes for a very heavy head!
- Stand with your chest proud
- This keeps your shoulders from rounding forward, straining the upper back and neck
- Keep you core muscles (your abdominals) turned on
- This supports your low back and keeps your pelvis in line with your ankles
As chiropractors, we talk about practicing excellent posture with every single one of our patients, as it is the most important thing you can do in your life to prevent arthritis, and muscle and joint aches and pains. Take the time during your day to think about the way you are positioning your body, and then, think about prevention NOW, so that you don’t have to think about treatment LATER.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Sarah and Brad Wild