Causes, Exercises & Treatment
If you lined up 100 people and asked them what the most important aspect of health and well-being was what do you think the top answers would be? My guess would be that consuming a healthy diet and performing exercise would be high on the list. There’s no doubt that these are very important but having good posture is unfortunately regularly overlooked. The modern lifestyle sees people slouched behind computers, sitting at the table eating breakfast and dinner, relaxing on the couch watching your favorite program as well as driving the car to and from work. It’s been shown that sitting is one of the single most dangerous activities to your health because it cripples your posture. 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. If a part of the engine is not working it will slowly breakdown. Your body is designed 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.
The human body has four normal curves when viewed from the side as well as being vertically 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. If you’re unable to do so then it’s likely that you have structural changes in your body which should be addressed. Imagine looking at someones posture who is standing opposite you. Ideally you should see balanced horizontal shoulders and pelvis as well as having a vertically aligned midline that intersects between their feet to their neck. When you view this person side on you should see their neck is upright, shoulders retracted and knees slightly bent so that a plumb-line can be dropped through their ear, shoulder, hip and ankle.
How Can You Improve Posture?
You can start improving your posture today but before searching for specific techniques, exercises or products to assist with improving your posture it’s important to seek help from a 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.
Chiropractor 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