The Overlooked Importance Of Posture: How Chiropractic Can Help?
If you were to line up one-hundred people and survey them about the most important element to achieving overall health and wellbeing what do you think the top answers would be? My guess would be that majority of people would consider consuming a healthy diet and engaging in moderate levels of physical activity integral to health and wellbeing. Although both of these are definitely important, posture outweighs them in the importance of being healthy.
Majority of us spend our days slouching behind a desk at a computer, sitting at the table eating breakfast and dinner, relaxing on the couch watching our favourite television show and driving in the car. Sitting has recently been shown to be one of the single most dangerous activities to our health because it not only cripples our posture but it is what our bodies are exactly not designed to do. These types of activities are just the tip of the iceberg of a long list that ultimately change our posture and affect our structure.
HOW DOES POOR POSTURE AFFECT YOUR HEALTH?
Think of your body like a car. If the wheels aren’t aligned, overtime it will suffer wear and tear or if one particular area of the engine is not working it will slowly breakdown. Our bodies are designed exactly the same way. The most common consequence of poor posture is the development of musculoskeletal related problems which may include middle and lower back pain, headaches, neck stiffness, muscle spasm, sciatica, joint degeneration, shoulder problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, impaired breathing, reduced hormone function, increased risk of injuries, reduced quality of life and lifespan.
There are various terms used interchangeably to describe normal posture, including good posture and neutral spine. These terms describe the human body having four distinct normal curves when viewed from the side as well as being vertical straight when viewed from behind. These curvatures are found in your neck (cervical), mid-back (thoracic), lower back (lumbar) and sacral regions and are responsible for providing the body with normal balance, flexibility, strength and stress absorption.
- Cervical (C1 – C7): normal lordotic curvature = ~30 degrees
- Thoracic (T1 – T12): normal kyphotic curvature = ~30 degrees
- Lumbar (L1 – L5): normal lordotic curvature = ~50 degrees
- Sacral (S1 – S5): normal kyphotic curvature
Maintaining normal posture should be easy and require no effort. Chances are if you are unable to do so, there are structural changes in your body which should be addressed. Imagine observing an individual’s posture who is standing opposite you, ideal posture will be demonstrated by having balanced horizontal shoulders and pelvis as well as having a vertically aligned midline that intersects between their feet to their neck. Likewise, when viewed from side on, their neck should be upright, shoulders retracted and knees slightly bent so that a plumbline can be dropped vertically through their ear, shoulder, hip and ankle.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE?
You can start improving your posture today but before searching for specific techniques, exercises or products to assist with improving your posture it is important to seek help from a corrective Chiropractor. Chiropractors are professional musculoskeletal experts that through various techniques allow optimal structural position and nervous system functioning. Your Chiropractor will assess your whole body and provide specific advice that is individually tailored to your solution to help you achieve normal posture, therefore improving your overall health and wellbeing.
CHIROPRACTIC & POSTURE RESEARCH
- Normal upright posture is largely dependent upon visual, vestibular, soft tissue and skin mechanorepcetion all of which respond to Chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy. Morningstar, M. et al (2005). Reflex control of the spine and posture: A review of the literature from a Chiropractic perspective. Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 13(16); 1 – 17
- Exercise prescription forms a large basis of Chiropractic management, segmental stretching and muscular chain therapy have been proven effective for treating postural deviations. Rosario, J.L et al (2012). Improving posture: Comparing segmental stretch and muscular chains therapy Clinical Chiropractic, 15(3); 121 – 128