Is Your Posture Making or Breaking Your Health? 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Posture
May is Posture Awareness month and it is a good opportunity to assess where you are at with your posture.
With the introduction of iPhones, iPads, and computers humans are spending more time than ever in a hunched over position. “If you don’t want to be one of those people who is hunched over, walks slowly, and suffers from chronic joint pain then pay attention to your posture – it’s more important than you think”, advises chiropractor Dr. Justin Scott of STRONGLIFE Chiropractic & Natural Health in Lithia/Tampa, Florida.
Findings from a 1994 study in the American Journal of Pain Management revealed that, “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.”
As you can see it isn’t as simple as how you look. Poor posture can influence all of the body’s functions. It can even cause unnecessary pain and suffering.
The study also found that, “Posture and normal physiology and function are interrelated. Abnormal posture is evident in patients with chronic pain-related conditions including backache, headache, and stress-related illnesses.”
Essentially, better posture means better overall health because it facilitates proper nerve flow from your brain to all the organs of your body. Good posture keeps your body in proper alignment, improves balance, and maintains that alignment as you move. Absent good posture, the abnormal wear and tear on joints can lead to arthritis and joint pain, stressed ligaments can lead to injury, and overused muscles can be strained.
Where do you Stand? – How to Check your Posture
To check your posture, have someone take photos of you from the front, the back and the side. Your head and neck should be centered over your torso. Notice if your head juts forward or your backside sticks way out. See if one hand hangs lower than the other, or if one hip or one shoulder is higher than the other.
Dr. Scott has been aware this research for many years which is why he uses an app called Posture Screen to digitally analyze the posture of all of his patients.
“Postural assessment is a vital part of the evaluation for all of my chiropractic patients”, said Dr. Scott.
Pay Attention to your Daily Habits
It’s also a good idea to check your posture throughout the day. Here are some guidelines:
To sit in a chair correctly, you need to keep your feet flat on the ground. That means no crossing your legs or sticking them out in front of you. If that is too uncomfortable, prop your feet on something. You should also keep your buttocks touching the back of the chair and your weight evenly distributed over both hips. And, of course, get up and stretch periodically throughout the day.
Keep your head up, shoulders back and stomach tucked.
Sleep with a pillow between your knees. If you’re a back sleeper, the pillow will reduce stress on your spine and support the natural curve in your lower back. If you’re a side sleeper, the pillow will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment. It will also reduce stress on your hips and lower back.
The good news is that you can improve your posture in as little as two weeks by retraining yourself to achieve better balance and alignment.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain good posture. Dr. Scott recommends Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi all of which can help you build body awareness and control.
Here are a couple of exercises to help improve your posture:
For balance, stand in a doorway. Raise one leg, bending at the knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold that position for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. The goal is to awaken your muscles and guide them toward symmetry.
Balance is important. Our bodies function best when everything – muscles, tendons, bones – are equally healthy and strong.
For alignment, put your heels against the wall, then step about a foot length away from the wall. Lean back until your buttocks and back touch the wall. Push your head back, keeping it level until it touches the wall. You may not be able to get the back of your head against the wall without tilting up your chin. If that’s the case, push your head back as far as it will go while staying level. Hold it there for 20 seconds. In time, you should improve your alignment enough so your head will reach the wall. Small muscles in your core control your posture. This exercise challenges those small muscles to improve your alignment. Leaning into the wall trains your muscles to remember that alignment.
If you know that your posture is not where you want it to be and are interested in an assessment contact Dr. Scott, who is uniquely trained to assess and correct postural distortions. Dr. Scott specializes in Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP. CBP takes chiropractic a step beyond immediate pain relief by combining postural corrective adjustments, exercises, and spinal remodeling programs to realign the spine back to health which focuses on addressing the root cause of the issue rather than just focusing on the symptoms.
Only a handful of doctors in Florida are certified in Chiropractic BioPhysics, the most research- and results-oriented chiropractic technique.
“I hope that you found these tips as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then I would encourage to visit our website at www.stronglifechiropractic.com to see how we help our patients improve their health and to find out whether you qualify for CBP care.”
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
Dr Justin Scott, DC
Chiropractor and Clinical Director