We are told “stand up straight” from an early age. Often, in our younger years, (especially that troublesome teen phase) it felt like nagging. However, posture really is so much more important than even our attentive relatives may have realized.
“Good posture supports good health. Proper body alignment can help prevent excess strain on your joints, muscles and spine — alleviating pain and reducing the likelihood of injury. As a bonus, correct posture can boost your productivity and mood, as well as help you use your muscles more efficiently.”
Of course, you expect to hear this from your chiropractor. Yet, this quote came from the Mayo Clinic. This is because it’s basic biology. Regardless of your position, sitting, standing, sitting or lying down, maintaining good posture will reduce strain on muscles and ligaments.
Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic offers these benefits of good posture:
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct position (alignment) so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
- Decreases the strain on the ligaments in the spine.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
According to Harvard Health blog, there’s even more!
“Good posture is important to balance: by standing up straight, you center your weight over your feet. This also helps you maintain correct form while exercising, which results in fewer injuries and greater gains. And working on balance can even strengthen your abilities in tennis, golf, running, dancing, skiing — and just about any other sport or activity.”
So what happens if you don’t have good posture? How will this lack of proper alignment, and additional strain affect your body? Consider these 10 health problems that can be caused by bad posture from the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress:
- It can cause tension headaches.Leaning forward with your head down and your neck slumped will strain your back and neck muscles. This tension can cause headaches, especially at the end of the day.
- It makes you tired.Slouching puts pressure on your lungs, so you aren’t able to breathe as deeply. The less oxygen you get into your body, the more tired and fatigued you will start to feel.
- It can make your gastrointestinal reflux worse.Your stomach and organs are all under pressure when you are leaning forward. This pressure can make your digestive system very unhappy, especially if you are already prone to digestive issues.
- It causes back pain.The strain of poor posture puts your spine out of alignment which can cause back and muscle pain. Your doctor of chiropractic can provide regular adjustments to realign your spine. Ask for help on correcting your posture, too.
- It increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.Poor posture can cause blood vessel constriction leading to blood clots and vein disorders. All of these issues can eventually turn into cardiovascular disease.
- It can cause pinched nerves. Have you ever pinched a nerve? It hurts. It can happen in any part of your body, and it can be difficult to relieve the pain. Chiropractic adjustments can help.
- It can increase knee pain. The misalignment of the spine that occurs from poor posture puts more pressure on your joints, especially your knees. If you have arthritis of the knee, it will gradually get worse over time. Your doctor of chiropractic can help to fix your alignment and relieve some of the pressure from your knees.
- It can make ruin your mood.A 2014 Health Psychology report found that people who sat upright reported higher self-esteem, alertness, better mood and felt less fear. Sit up straight, and you’ll feel a little better.
- It can wreck your bite. Poor spinal alignment can misalign your jaw joints. This can change the way you bite down. It can cause jaw pain, teeth issues or temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
- It can affect your sexual function.Poor posture, while you are sitting, shortens and tightens your pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles start to get weak, it can affect your sexual performance and enjoyment.
The good news is that much of this can be avoided! So what is the first step?
Check your posture.
You can do this a few different ways. Perform a wall test, take a picture, use an app (such as the PostureZone app) or see your chiropractor or other qualified health professional. If you have any questions or concerns after a self test (wall test, picture test or an app test) be sure to follow-up with your chiropractor.
WALL TEST (Directions from Mayo Clinic):
- Stand so that the back of your head, your shoulder blades and your buttocks touch the wall, and your heels are 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
- Put a flat hand behind the small of your back. You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall for a correct lower back curve.
- If there’s too much space behind your lower back, draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This flattens the curve in your back and gently brings your lower back closer to the wall.
- If there’s too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind you.
- Walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then return to the wall to check whether you kept a correct posture.
TAKE A PICTURE (directions from Posturemonth.org):
♦ Is your head centered over your feet?
♦ Are your shoulders level?
♦ Are your arms evenly spaced from your body
♦ Do both thumbs face forward?
♦ Can you draw a straight line from the center of your feet to your nose?
Can you draw a straight line through your…
Once you have the results from your posture test, you are ready to take action. If your posture is pretty good, then a few simple exercises or stretches may further improve it.
Exercises that strengthen the core are a good place to start. These abdominal and back muscles connect to the spine and pelvis. Some move your body by flexing, extending and rotating the spine, while others stabilize your pelvis and spine.
If your posture needs some work, your chiropractor can assist you in straightening up your posture. This may include spinal adjustments, treatment modalities, specific stretches, targeted exercises, and changes to your workstation.
In some cases, you may have to work on core muscles that are too weak to do their job effectively. In other cases, you may have to work on muscles that seemingly have nothing to do with posture. For example, tight muscles in the chest area can pull your shoulders forward, negatively affecting your posture.
Fortunately, with a specific posture building program geared towards your individual body’s needs you can make improvements in your posture, and thereby, your health.
Give yourself a quick posture check several times a day. Simply being mindful of how you hold your body can help you develop better posture habits.
Your chiropractor can help you determine your current posture as well as what steps would benefit you most toward improving it. If you don’t already have a regular chiropractor, you can find a TCA doctor near you at www.tnchiro.com/find-a-doctor.
6 Exercises for Better Posture https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/better-posture-exercises#1
Why good posture matters https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-good-posture-matters
Back Health and Posture https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4485-back-health-and-posture
Posture: Align yourself for good health https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/posture-align-yourself-for-good-health/art-20269950
Ten Reasons You Need To Fix Your Posture Dr. Sherry McAllister https://www.f4cp.org/?s=posture
How do you Stack up? https://posturemonth.org/your-posture-check/