What is Posture?
Posture is a concern for many people and a concern for people with children or others to look after. Most people have a grandparent or parent that constantly remind them to sit up straight and stop slouching. This is for good reason. Poor posture is can change spinal structure, muscle length (neurologically) and your bodies input into your brain and nervous system. If you take the theory of evolution posture as true, posture is extremely important for human beings. If we evolved from apes this means we used to walk on our hands and slowly started to stand up into the upright human beings we are today.
Do you or someone you know stuff from poor posture? Do you have a look at photos of yourself and wish you were standing up straighter and more comfortably. If you feel like it’s time to get on top of your posture now rather than wait, then speak to one of our Chiropractors about what you can do to change your posture.
The importance of posture is clear when looking at the beginning and end of life. Babies are curled up in a ball when they are inside their mothers uterus, in a fully flexed position with their hands across their chest and knees tucked up as well. This position displays an undeveloped brain and nervous system. Then as children develop and grow, they start to get more and more upright. They start by crawling on their stomach and then into a proper knee and hand crawl before being able to stand upright. Once they reach teenage and adulthood, their posture improves and we are able to be more athletic and coordinated. Towards the end of life as you age you will often see all the people hunching forward again. There is a good relationship between posture and brain function. As we age and our brain function decreases and so does our posture. In the same way the undeveloped brain of an infant causes a flex position posture so does a deteriorating brain in an elderly person. This may seem like a grim reality, however, there are some things you can do to improve your posture through simple exercise and the right care. It is therefore recommended that you look after your brain if you’re going to look after your posture.
We have all seen people when they’re sad, with their heads down and hands in their lap representing a poor posture. We have all seen other people who are confident, standing with their chest up and standing tall. There is evidence to show that adopting a upright posture will also release the same chemicals in your brain that create confidence. Therefore if you stand up tall with your shoulders back and look up at the horizon you’ll naturally have more confidence. Pretty cool right?
The result of poor posture can come about in many ways. The further your head goes forward on top of your shoulders the heavier your head feels to the rest of your body. For every inch (3cm) your head goes forward on top of your shoulders, your head doubles in weight. While that is okay for your body to be able to handle for short periods of time, as that stress grows/accrues on your upper traps and neck eventually leading to build up of lactic acid and changing muscle tone, other issues can arise. Dowager’s hump or a hump at the back of your lower neck is a common example of what can go wrong if people have their head in a forward posture for too long. Your spine adapts to your most regular posture and you begin to get a fat deposit on the top of your shoulder blades at the base of your neck. If you look closely enough at people, you’ll see this in the community and maybe even with friends or family. This kind of deformity also comes about with rounded shoulders tight back and sore upper traps.
There are a number reason why the muscles in your upper trapezius and neck gets sore. Firstly, when you adopt these poor postures, the muscles in the back of your neck and shoulders are in a stretched position. Muscles in a stretched position are generally weaker than muscles in a shortened position. This is why people rarely have pectoral or chest pain because the muscles in this region are short and tight rather than long and weak. Long and weak muscles that are under constant strain usually give more pain, tension, stiffness and soreness to the individual. Given these long/weak muscles are also on your back, they are not ones that you can see with your eyes. Believe it or not this is quite important to your brains connection to your body. When you can’t see the muscles on your back, your brain is less likely to be able to correctly map that area of your body. Your brain has maps of your body within itself that need to be constantly refreshed so that they are accurate. An accurate brain map means the brain can accurately tell which muscles to contract in your back and where to send pain signals. If there is maps are inaccurate then your brain can incorrectly send pain signals to these areas, plus tighten up the muscles because your brain is confused on what to do. When the brain is confused on what to do it tightens up the muscles in order to gain more information from the muscles, in order to restore the maps. Unfortunately, these changes your brain maps makes them learn that having upper trap tension or neck tension from your poor posture is normal. This is why you can get a massage, use a foam roller or put some heat balm on your traps and they will feel better for a while. But since you haven’t change the underlying reason why your traps are sore in the first place, nor have you improved the brain map, your body will inevitably go back into the previous state of pain and discomfort.
This is why posture is supremely important for everyone who wants to avoid pain and disability in the future.
We’ve already spoken about brain function resulting in poor posture, but there are clearly physical problems that happen as well. Some people will have congenital abnormalities in the spine result in them having a poor posture. What this means is things that they were born with. Deformities or abnormalities that were coded in the DNA that they cannot change, which means that their posture cannot improve. Other people may have been in car accidents or suffer from serious diseases that mean their posture is permanent. These people have even more of an importance on strengthening the right muscles, working on their posture and seeking appropriate professional advice and management.
For the general population, poor posture does not happen overnight, and therefore cannot be corrected overnight either. It takes a series of strategies and exercises in order to change posture. Chiropractic care can also help with your posture and make it more comfortable for you to stand straight up tall. The changes that your brain makes from Chiropractic care are very important to your posture well.
In order to avoid poor posture you should think about creating a good work environment where you can sit up tall and on a chair properly with the height of the computer at eye level and not leaning forward much. You should take regular breaks and even get up out of your chair to walk around and stand up tall. There are many posture exercises that people can use, it’s best to speak to a health professional before attempting any of these as they may not be appropriate for your body type.
Poor posture means that your body is not working normally, and as a result certain joints, ligaments and muscles are being overused or underused. This can result in early deterioration or in wearing tear of joints in certain areas more so than others. Another example of this is your ability to breathe deeply. For example, if you hunch forward, bend your chin down to your chest and roll your shoulders in and then try to take a deep breath, in it is a lot harder than if you push your chest up towards the roof pull your shoulders back in your head up straight. You can try this yourself right now!
We get asked all the time, is it too late to fix your posture? The easy answer is no. Even people with permanent changes in their spine or mental health can always either maintain the current posture or improve. Having the appropriate practitioner mobilise your spinal joints, talk to you about lifestyle changes and postural correction exercises can make a lasting result in your quality of life.
We take photos of people’s posture before and after treatment and give postural correction exercises to assist you in correcting your posture. After two months we reassess you and make sure that the treatment is correct. We expect that after these two months we should see significant changes in your upright posture.
If you don’t think your posture is that bad or you want to have a check, try testing yourself. Get someone to take a photo of you from the side. Your ear should be on top of the tip of your shoulder, your shoulder should be in line with your hip, your hip in line with your knee and your knee in line with your ankle. If this simple test fails then it’s a good idea to get on top of it now.
Here at The Innate Connection we are more than happy to assess you, your children, friends or family who you think are suffering from poor posture, that way we can make a plan, refer for appropriate imaging or X-rays, give you reassurance and advice on making sure you live a long life with good upright posture.
20 facts about posture
1. Poor posture can lead to chronic neck and back pain.
2. Poor posture can increase stress levels and fatigue.
3. Poor posture can lead to breathing difficulties.
4. Poor posture can lead to poor circulation.
5. Poor posture can impair digestion.
6. Poor posture can reduce athletic performance.
7. Poor posture can cause headaches.
8. Poor posture can lead to poor balance.
9. Poor posture can cause joint pain.
10. Good posture can reduce stress and improve mood.
11. Good posture can improve breathing and circulation.
12. Good posture can improve digestion.
13. Good posture can increase energy levels.
14. Good posture can improve balance and coordination.
15. Good posture can reduce strain on joints.
16. Good posture can help prevent injuries.
17. Good posture can improve athletic performance. 18. Good posture can help prevent back and neck pain.
19. Good posture can help you appear more confident.
20. Practicing good posture can help you maintain good posture for life.