Did your mother or teacher have to constantly tell you to stand tall or sit up straight? Well, as it turns out, their advice was right on the money. Posture is how your body is positioned when you are sitting, standing, or lying down. This article will discuss why good posture is important, the health consequences of poor posture, and steps you can take to improve posture.
All of us admire those with good posture, it is an attractive feature and those with good posture give a sense of command and control. Unfortunately, very few people are committed to practicing daily rituals to improve their posture. This postural neglect can have serious consequences on our overall health.
Why is Good Posture Important?
Posture is the window into your spine. Your spine has a powerful relationship with your brain, spinal cord, and overall organ function. The curve in the spine is there to provide support and balance to the musculoskeletal system. This natural curve is essential for preventing deformation to bones, joints, muscles, and tendons.
Correct posture reinforces the natural curve of the spine and not only influences how you look but helps you breathe, improves concentration, supports vital organ function, and stimulates overall well-being. Correct posture protects against disc degeneration that can lead to inflammatory conditions and disease. It is also critical for protecting the central nervous system.
What Is Subluxation?
In our modern society, we daily repeat activities that create stress on the supporting spinal column. Slouching, crossing legs, Smartphone use, and incorrect ergonomic practices at home, school, and work cause poor posture.
These daily activities lead to the abnormal curvature of the spine and abnormal stress on the nervous system, which is known as subluxation, or partial dislocation. Subluxation interferes with nerve impulses and can manifest in numerous physical symptoms.
Examples of physical symptoms from subluxation include:
- Neuropathy, a disease or disorder, generally degenerative, that affects the nervous system
- Back pain or neck pain
- Chronic pain common in the hips, joints, lower back, pelvis, and knees
- Irritation of a specific area such as arm pain
- Weakened immune system
- Organ dysfunction
- Inability to move or exercise normally
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Autoimmune conditions
- Headaches and migraines
The spine is susceptible to numerous traumas, including birth, regular physical activities from exercise and sports, as well as accidental injury from car accidents and falls. Depending on the type of injury and which nerve pathways of the spine become disrupted, spinal subluxations can increase the risk for weakened immunity and lowered quality of life.
Loss of the spine’s natural curve inhibits normal physiological and nervous system functions. The ability to protect the brain stem and support the communication of nerve impulses throughout the body becomes suppressed.
In addition, physical limitations of the body marked by poor posture accelerate the aging process and increase inflammation. This is a result of the body’s inability to manage stress and tissue trauma appropriately.
Forward Head Posture
Probably the most noticeable and common postural issue is forward head posture. It is an exaggeration of the natural curve of the neck. The natural curve, or arc, helps protect the brain stem and the spinal canal, where the spinal cord and nerves that travel to every region of the body are housed.
As the arc reduces it becomes unstable and results in a forward head posture. Causes of forward head posture include:
- Looking down while typing or reading (which has become excessive with the use of smartphones)
- Sitting improperly with shoulders rounded and back hunched
- Driving with your head more than 2 inches away from the head rest
- Carrying a backpack or heavy purse over one shoulder
Forward head posture causes major stress on the musculoskeletal system. It can lead to many health issues. For every inch your head extends forward, your neck must support an additional 10 pounds (nearly 5kg) of weight, and depending on the severity of the forward head posture, it can add up to 30 pounds (about 14kg) of additional weight on the spinal discs, ligaments, and tendons. This results in a cascade of injury to internal organs, like the lungs (which affects breathing), and affects blood flow and oxygenating the blood.
3 Ways to Improve Your Posture by Correcting & Preventing Sublaxation and Forward Head Posture
#1: Chiropractic Care – Chiropractic adjustments can help compensate for postural abnormalities leading to an improvement in the health of the spine and the whole body. Research found that chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitation exercises lead to the correction of forward head posture and cervical lordosis and restored pulmonary function.
#2: Lifestyle Practices – The first step to achieving good posture is being aware of your postural habits. Once you are aware of your poor postural habits, you can replace these habits with new healthy postural habits.
Four suggested lifestyle practices to reinforce good posture include:
- Make sure the top of your computer screen is level with your eyes, about two feet away from your face
- Carry a backpack squarely over both shoulders to balance the weight distribution
- When carrying a purse or duffle bag, carry it diagonally across the torso
- Have ample lower back support while sitting or lying for prolonged periods
#3: Exercises – Daily practice of posture correcting exercises will help create new postural habits.