For generations, mothers have reminded their children to sit up straight and not slouch. As it turns out, this was pretty sound medical advice. Not only does proper posture look better, but it offers a multitude of health benefits as well. Unfortunately, many men and women neglect their posture daily. Hours are spent at the computer and in the car, and there is an increasing lack of physical activity which can eventually lead to discomfort and injury.
The spine is designed to support the human body and keep it in proper alignment. However, this disregard for proper posture prevents it from doing its job effectively. Over time, poor posture can lead to a number of avoidable problems, including:
Back Pain - Slouching prevents the spine from performing as effectively as it should. To compensate, muscles must work harder to protect the spine and maintain stabilization. This will frequently lead to muscle pain, tightness, and fatigue.
Spinal Curvature – Over time, bad posture places pressure on the spine, changing the natural “S” shape. Instead, the spine may develop a curvature which compromises its ability to balance and absorb shock.
Constriction of Nerves – As is the case with muscles surrounding the spine, nearby nerves may experience increased pressure as well. This can result in pain throughout the neck, back, and other areas of the body.
To avoid these problems and others, it is imperative to be cognizant of posture and take steps to maintain it properly. Bad habits can be quite difficult to break, but by implementing a few simple changes, posture can quickly begin to improve.
Stretch – Performing a few simple daily stretches such as a chest or hip flexor stretch can help significantly improve any pain or damage caused by bad posture, as well as prevent future injury. A chiropractor can be a good consultative source for developing a routine of stretches to practice regularly.
Yoga – Yoga poses require proper body alignment and breathing techniques to perform, thereby offering a number of postural and overall health benefits. The focus on core muscles makes maintaining balance and a straight back much easier. Even basic, beginner poses may provide relief from the negative effects of poor posture.
Seated Posture – Whether at a desk or in the car, the hours spent in a seated, hunched position are perhaps the greatest contributor to improper posture. In order to combat the negative effects of these hours, it’s important to remain constantly aware of correct body positioning. A chair that is ergonomically designed to provide proper support can help, as can sitting with feet flat on the floor at all times.
Movement – Remaining sedentary for several hours is not only negative for posture, but for overall health as well. In fact, the American Cancer Society has found that sitting for more than three consecutive hours each day can even lower life expectancy. Standing up and moving around regularly, will help prevent the slumping that occurs with muscle fatigue.
Make it a Habit – As behaviors for good posture are practiced, maintaining proper position will occur naturally. Whether seated or standing, the goal should be to keep alignment between the head, shoulders, and hips. Visual reminders such as photos or notes placed on a desk or in a car can help reinforce these practices until they become habit.
Developing good posture can have a positive impact on your comfort and health. Pain can be eased and future injury may be avoided. If you struggle with bad posture or combating the negative effects it can cause, one of our skilled chiropractors can help. The physicians at SouthEast Chiropractic regularly practice techniques which can help restore proper alignment of the spine and reduce discomfort. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office.