by Kelly Tolle
Poor posture is a modern health epidemic that can have serious health consequences. Hours spent hunched in front of a computer or TV, texting and playing phone games, carrying heavy purses and backpacks, and sleeping in bad positions are just a few of the stresses contributing to bad posture. Unfortunately, our children are spending an increasing amount of time doing just these activities.
Students and people with sedentary computer jobs have to be careful about their head posture. The proper position for the head is for the ear to be directly over the shoulder from the side. However, the continued stress of a slouched posture causes the head to creep forward, and then the shoulders follow by rolling in. Bad posture is a downward spiral because your body compensates for bad posture with worsening posture as it loses the fight against gravity.
Poor posture has many health related consequences:
Headaches. The muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders become stressed and irritated in a slouched posture. Over time, the tightness causes nerve irritations and muscle spasms that restrict proper blood flow.
Back and Neck Pain. The muscles, ligaments, and discs are under stress when your body is not in proper alignment. Strong muscles help keep the spine aligned and also prevent the spine from moving beyond its normal range of motion, which is essential to protecting the ligaments and discs from injury.
Fatigue. A vicious cycle, fatigue causes bad posture which in turn causes fatigue. Exhausted muscles cannot support your body the way they are designed to do. Also, your muscles have to work extra hard just to hold you up if you have poor posture, leaving you without energy.
Diminished Breathing. Rounded shoulders and an imbalanced spine can restrict the expansion of the rib cage leading to breathing difficulties. The diaphragm cannot rise and fall as designed, therefore your body does not receive proper oxygen intake.
Besides these specific conditions, bad posture limits range of motion and can drastically affect sports performance. Successful athletes such as Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, and Jerry Rice utilize regular chiropractic care to stay at the top of their sport.
Correct posture is more than just sitting and standing upright. It means that the bones in your spine are properly aligned so that your body can function at its full potential. With your spine in correct position, the muscles can function as they were designed. Chiropractic care can correct poor posture by fixing spinal misalignments. A body that is properly aligned can then engage in exercise to strengthen and stretch key postural muscles. These postural exercises can re-train your muscles to help hold you in proper position. Good posture allows your nervous system to function correctly, resulting in more energy, increased strength and endurance, improved sleep, and better overall health.
So what can you do to help yourself? Assess your daily routine for postural stresses. Are you sitting for long periods, staring at a computer screen, sleeping on your stomach, or carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder? Remember to take breaks and perform stretches for every 30 minutes of inactivity, move the computer screen to eye level, sleep on your back or side if supported, and lighten your carrying load. Adjust your habits so these repetitive microtraumas will stop causing your aches and pains. Besides spinal adjustments, a chiropractor can address your lifestyle ergonomics and give you specific stretches and exercises. By taking care of your posture, you are taking care of your health.
This article was originally published in the March/April issue of Lake Mary Life Magazine. The author, Kelly Tolle, is a Doctor of Chiropractic and mother of three small children. Owner of Heathrow Family Chiropractic, she is dedicated to improving her patients’ quality of life thru chiropractic, nutrition, and massage therapy at the Colonial TownPark location. Visit www.heathrowfamilychiropractic.com.
Lake Mary Life Magazine is the premier lifestyle publication in the Lake Mary area, dedicated to publishing positive and uplifting stories about our community. Lake Mary Life is a partner of GalTime Orlando.