Poor Posture: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Tips to Improve Your Posture
Are the days that we hear “sit up straight” and “stop slouching” over with? Today this advice is more important than ever. With the technological age upon us, poor posture is becoming an epidemic in our society, and so are the consequences to your health.
Studies show your posture has a big influence on your overall health. Forward head posture is one of the leading causes for neck pain, upper back pain, and shoulder pain. Chronic pain syndromes, headaches and jaw issues may appear if arthritic changes progress and postural imbalances remain uncorrected 1,2,3. If we look back 50 years ago, spines and posture looked much different before cell phones became a part of everyday life.
Not only has research shown poor posture can lead to upper body pain, poor posture can also pose significant health risks to other systems in the body, the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems most notably being affected 4. From a study published in 1994 in the American Journal of Pain Management:
“Posture affects and moderates every physiologic function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.” 5
Essentially, better posture can equate to better overall health. Proper posture facilitates proper nerve transmission from the brain to the vital organs in the body. Good posture keeps your spine and body weight in proper alignment, improves balance, and maintains that alignment as you become functional and move. Poor posture can cause abnormal wear and tear on spinal joints, which can lead to arthritis and joint pain, stressed ligaments that can lead to injury, and overused muscles that can be strained.
Where Do You Stand? – Ways You Can Check Your Posture
To check your posture on your own, it is most easily evaluated from three pictures, one from the front, one from the back and one from the side. In the front view, the pelvis should be centered over the feet, the torso centered over the pelvis, and the head centered over the torso. Look for uneven shoulders and hips, your torso shifted to one side relative to the pelvis, and if one hand hangs lower than the other.
From the side, the hip should be aligned over the ankle, the shoulder aligned over the hip, and the ear aligned over the shoulder. If your ear is forward of your shoulder, this is called anterior head translation or forward head posture. If you suffer from neck or upper back pain, or headaches then this could be the answer to your problem. However, this needs to be validated through x-ray, as your head may be shifting forward due to a loss of neck curve.
If you observe distortions in your posture, contact a Chiropractic Biophysics or CBP® trained chiropractor to find out how to correct these problems.
“The assessment of upright human posture is an extremely important piece of the initial exam and progress exams for patients. This is why at Optimal Spine & Posture we use Posture Screen to be able to quantify posture digitally, and be able to properly compare to previous studies in documenting the progress of the patient.” – Dr. Justin Anderson
Become Aware of Your Daily Habits
Body awareness is extremely important, whether you are a NFL quarterback navigating the pocket or someone trying to improve their posture in various positions throughout the day.
Check the ergonomics of all your workspaces and seated positions. For our patients at Optimal Spine & Posture, we have them get a photo of themselves seated at their workspace. From here we can more accurately provide advice to alter the workspace to reduce prolonged spinal stress. Most commonly this starts with a good lumbar support, often adding a rolled up towel or a foam lumbar support to the chair or car seat.
Lightly stretch the ligaments and muscles that are tight, and strengthen weak postural muscles. If you have a desk job, the knees and hips are flexed throughout the day while you are seated. A great exercise to counteract this position is the simple squat. Back squats, front squats, and overhead squats are all great movements to strengthen postural muscles, and stretch your hips in a counteractive manner. Corrective spine traction is the gold standard to stretching chronically constricted ligaments, so find a chiropractor trained in Chiropractic Biophysics ® or CBP®.
- Tip #3
Fix your sleeping position. If you get the ideal eight hours of sleep a night, you want to make sure you are resting in a position that is favorable for spine alignment. If you are sleeping on your side, you want a pillow that fills the space between your shoulder and your head, properly aligning the center of the head and the center of the torso. A pillow between the knees can also help relax the lower back and hips. The most common issue is people sleep with a pillow that is too thick. If you are sleeping on your back, a thinner pillow is more beneficial in keeping your ear on top of your shoulder. An ergonomic pillow that supports the neck curve but allows your head to extend back is ideal. The Denneroll Pillow is the pillow of choice at Optimal Spine & Posture.
If you are interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then we would encourage you to visit our website at http://www.OptimalChiropracticBoise.com to see how we further help our patients improve their health and to find out whether you qualify for CBP® care at Optimal Spine & Posture.
1. Gore DR, Sepic SB & Gardner GM. Roentgenographic findings of the cervical spine in asymptomatic people. Spine 1986 Jul-Aug; 11(6): 521-4.
2. Gore DR. Roentgenographic findings in the cervical spine in asymptomatic persons: a 10-year follow-up. Spine 2001 Nov 15; 26(22): 2463-6.
3. Saunders ES, Woggon D, Cohen C & Robinson DH. Improvement of cervical lordosis and reduction of forward head posture with anterior head weighting and proprioceptive balancing protocols. J Vertebral Subluxation Res 2003 Apr 27: 1-5.
4. Martin-Du Pan RC, Benoit R & Girardier L. The role of body position and gravity in the symptoms and treatment of various medical diseases. Swiss Med Wkly 2004 Sep 18; 134(37-38):543-51.
5. Lennon, J. & Shealy, Cl & Cady, Roger & Matta, W. & Cox, R. & Simpson, W.F.. (1994). Postural and respiratory modulation of autonomic function, pain, and health. American Journal of Pain Management. 4. 36-39. –American Journal of Pain Management 1994, 4: 36-39