Your Bad Posture may be causing more problems than you think
I hear mothers tell their children often, “Stand up straight! Your posture is awful!” Most of the time, Mom is correct in her assessment. The slouching back and shoulders, tilted pelvis, and forward head lean. Mom gets mad but she should also look in the mirror and practice what she preaches.
Experts say that poor posture, which was long regarded by elders as a sign of laziness and sloppiness, is now recognized as a major cause of back and neck issues as well as other more serious health issues. Poor posture affects more than 80 percent of Americans young and old alike according to the National Institutes of Health.
Biomechanics expert Dr. Mark Cucuzzella states that minor misalignments in the back and neck are brought on by simple daily factors like sedentary lifestyles, smartphone usage, long hours at desk- based jobs and poor sleep habits. He noted that they are also causing more serious health problems.
Obvious problems related to poor posture are neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, headaches, and back pain. But poor posture is causing much more and leading to chronic issues such as joint damage, arthritis, and chronic pain conditions.
As a chiropractor, I have seen the ravages of poor posture on patients over my 28 years of practice. I believe you would agree that if a person tried to run a full marathon 5 days a week, their body would suffer the toll of overuse. That person would suffer muscle, tendon, ligament and joint inflammation, pain and eventual damage.
Poor posture on a daily basis forces many of the same overuse issues to occur to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints of the spine in the neck and back. Just sitting at a desk with poor posture every day will take its toll and begin to create similar damage.
Healing and recovery occurs via the body’s immune system. In the case of chronic poor posture, the attempt to heal the constant assault results in constant inflammation of tissues and can lead to calcification, spurs and arthritis.
In addition, research reveals that it can be detrimetnal on vital organ function. Postural issues affect the lungs by limiting respiratory function which in turn can have adverse cardiovascular effects. If that isn’t bad enough, poor posture alters digestive function and can lead to bowel and constipation issues. We will address those problems related to posture in another article.
A 2014 study on postural issues coined the term “text neck”. The study found that when you hold your head in proper alignment with your shoulders, the head weighs about 10 pounds. Consequently, for every inch the head is tilted forward, the amount of weight placed on the spine nearly doubles. This is astounding, but I am told by patients seeking treatment for neck pain that they “hold their tension” in their neck. They are exactly right, but the tension isn’t from work, it is from their poor forward head posture.
Chiropractic treatment was designed to aid in the correction of poor posture and the spinal dysfunction that results. While a chiropractic evaluation and treatment are the start of correction, other factors must be addressed.
1-Identify weak areas: Poor posture is always the result of weakness and imbalance in the postural support muscles. Once these weaknesses are identified, the appropriate strengthening exercises can be implemented.
2-Move: Whether you sit or stand while working, regular movement is essential. Even minimal movement aids in deterring body fatigue and overworking the same muscles, so move around, walk in place, move the arms and bend and twist to keep the body in motion as best you can.
3-Regular strengthening and stretching exercises: Strengthening the scapular support muscles and the core are essential for good posture. It is vital to identify the weak components of the postural chain. You should also stretch tight overworked muscles. These are often the muscles of the lower back, legs, chest and forearms.
4-Addressing causative factors: Work-stations and mattresses are two important factors that can affect posture positively and negatively.
5-Muscle function: Addressing myofascial components with massage, stretching and exercise are vital to maintaining good posture.
6-Chiropractic care: Periodic chiropractic treatment can keep your normal spinal mechanics functioning and make it easier for you to maintain proper posture. It is easy and makes you feel great as well.
If you feel poor posture is causing you health issues, make an appointment to find out. We can identify the cause and develop a working plan to not only get your feeling better, but help you look great as well.