Your mom probably wanted you to look confident and proud but the bottom line is, good posture is good for your health and is now recognized as an important factor in aging well. “We all heard it when we were growing up – ‘stand up straight’, ‘you’re slouching’.
When your back is not properly aligned, your body’s center of gravity shifts, putting more stress and load on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. Poor posture is a major cause of neck, back and joint pain. When you slouch, your internal organs may be compressed affecting bodily functions like digestion and even your ability to breathe clearly.
Poor posture can be traced to many activities from sitting in front of a computer for hours, carrying heavy pocketbooks or briefcases on one shoulder all the time, wearing high heals, laying on a couch unsupported or sleeping improperly and exercising in poor form just to name a few. The muscles tire and the body shifts position, causing some muscle groups to become tight, stretched, and weak.
We are creatures of habit. When we have an injury, our body will move differently to avoid pain. Over time, the body will adapt. Our body will create new habits. The brain adapts and adopts new muscles and joint positions even in the absence of continued pain. We believe we are standing straight because our brain is being told by our senses that we are balanced, even though the mirror shows we are not.
To achieve the best posture when standing, the body should maintain a straight vertical alignment from the top of the head, through the center of the body, and down to the feet. Take a minute and go in front of a mirror in your house and check to see if one shoulder is higher than another, one hip is higher than another, if your shoulders are rotated forward. From the side, look for an imaginary straight line from the ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. When sitting, the spine and head should remain upright, while maintaining the three natural curves in the back. Also check these points on your children. The earlier the spine is checked for imbalances, the easier they are to correct.
Here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of poor posture as you sit in the office:
- Take frequent breaks – about every 30 minutes.
- If you cannot get up, stretch your arms and legs as much as possible.
- Sit in an office chair with a comfortable height to maintain good posture and provide adequate support for your back.
- Keep desk items – phone, calendar, appointment book – within comfortable reach.
- Women: avoid wearing high heels. They change the center of gravity and put extra stress on the back”(1)
Chiropractors refer to posture as the “window to the spine.” And, since your spine protects the master control system of the body (your nervous system), you need to pay attention to your posture on a daily basis.
Spinal shifts, vertebral misalignments and structural instability can lead to arthritic changes. They can also cause other health and/or functional problems as well. For example, did you know:
* Thoracic spine arthritis/spurs indicate accompanying coronary arteriosclerosis 85% of the time. Bone spurs and arthritic changes in the thoracic spine can mimic angina pectoris.(2)
* Upper Thoracic Spine – Children under chiropractic care showed a 96.5% non-occurrence rate of asthma, whereas children under medical care showed a 95% non-occurrence rate of asthma. The authors concluded that the immune systems of children under chiropractic care are better able to cope with allergens which may cause asthmatic conditions.(3)
* Mid Thoracic Spine – Using radiography, Burchett examined sixty-one hospital patients and found that in 88% of patients with gallbladder disease there was lipping (arthritis) from T7-T10; spinal osteophytes (T9-T11) were found in 82% of those with stomach disease. Many sufferers of pancreatic dis-ease had segments T5-T7 involved and 31% of patients with duodenal disease had osteophytes at T9-L2.(4)
* Lower Thoracic Spine – Subluxations (vertebral misalignments) of the T6 – T10 vertebrae can cause gall bladder symptoms.(5)
Every aspect of our lives affects posture: nutrition, stress, exercise, mental development, and body fat. Posture is one of the most overlooked keys to better health. “Research studies show the truth in what mothers have always known: standing up tall improves our health.” May is the perfect time to celebrate a renewed commitment to health, longevity, and new habits.
Every year in honor of National Correct Posture month in May, Dr. Russell Brokstein, chiropractor and owner of Hometown Family Wellness Center in Freehold, NJ, offers professional posture assessments. Dr. Brokstein will be examining the spines of children and adults using state of the art computerized spinal assessments. These exams help prevent unnecessary muscle imbalance, structural instability, scoliosis and other health conditions related to poor posture. We’ve been helping people of all ages in Freehold and the surrounding towns of Marlboro, Manalapan, Howell, Colts Neck, Jackson, Morganville and other towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.
To secure a complimentary Posture and Full Spinal Examination, call 732-780-0044 or go to www.ChiropractorFreehold.com for more information about Dr. Brokstein and Hometown Family Wellness Center.
1. By Marianne Favro for NBC11 News
2. J.A.O.A. 1983, 82, 93-94
3. van Breda WM; van Breda JM. A Comparative Study Of The Health Status Of The Health Status Of Children Raised Under The Health Care Models Of Chiropractic And Allopathic Medicine. J Chiro Res 1989; 5:101-3
4. Burchett GD J of the American Osteopathic Association 1968; 67(6): 675.
5. Grail McGinley, Newsday, Melville, NY