How Goes Your Posture, So Goes…
As bipedal creatures, posture plays an extremely important role for our health and wellbeing. Since we stand on two legs, our vertebral column vertically stacks against the force of gravity instead of perpendicular as with 4-legged creatures. Proper posture helps balance our skeletal structure upright onto the tower of our spinal column for function and movement. Few people ever think about how important standing or sitting with your chin up, shoulders back and chest out can really be. Luckily, I, Dr. Mike, specialize in posture and will explain a few of its most important functions.
How Well You Breathe
Our thoracic cavity holds our cardiovascular system, our heart and our lungs, and good posture gives us our fullest breadth. When slouching forward in chairs, our thoracic cavity is compressed by our digestive tract and upper thoracic spine. Thus, slouching forward decreases the amount of inspiration that can be gathered, held, transferred and used by our body.
A decreased oxygen flow to the body results in decreased performance of our organs, lungs, brain, cells and joints. These negative effects of poor sitting posture and poor oxygen flow has led cardiologists to state “sitting is the new smoking.” Aside from carcinogenic damage, poor sitting posture and smoking both have the same damaging outcomes from reduced oxygen flow. The better your posture, the better your air flow. The better your air flow, the better your brain, body and cells work. After all, we are aerobic creatures and ‘air’-robic exercise is a key part of human health.
How Well You Move
Properly stacking bodyweight onto a vertical column seamlessly transfers gravitational forces from the skull down to the ground. We use structures called facets that lock onto one another in extension to carry our weight as we move. These structures are only on the back side of our spines. The front side of our spines do not have facets. In fact, they do not have any supporting structures at all to help hold our weight. So, when we tip forward, bend forward, or slouch forward, we are putting ourselves at risk for injury.
Injuries may occur in a single instance of overloading the joints with a bad bend or a bad lift. Injuries may also occur over time when we continuously slouch forward or tip our heads down. These injuries are nothing new as 80% of the population experiences back pain at some point in their life. Back pain on average costs the US $50 billion in healthcare costs each year, the 6th most costly condition in the US. Additionally, back pain is also the leading cause of time missed from work.
How Well You Age
If we never implement good postural habits, the risk of back injuries only increases with age. Spending hours a day slouched forward places unsupported forces onto discs and joints that causes micro damage to accumulate. Most damage in the early stages goes unnoticed. It may take as little as a few weeks or months but most damage won’t be noticed for years. By this time the damage may be irreparable.
For these reasons, our posture greatly plays a role in how well we age. If you have ever seen a little old person at the store who seem to be stuck hunched forward, you might have asked yourself “how could anyone get to that point?” Afterwards, you climb into your car, lean forward in your seat and arrive at work where you sit in a nearly identical slumped position for the next 8 hours. How could anyone get to that point? By not even noticing they’re doing it every single day for hours at a time, practicing being old.
Proper Posture for Better Health
To summarize best, posture is crucial to good health and wellness for life. Sitting and standing upright, shoulders back, chest out and chin up plays an insurmountable role in your quality of life. When practiced correctly and consistently, proper posture allows you to move, breathe and age gracefully with little to no dysfunction. Posture improves function and performance of your body and mind while protecting you from immediate or long-term harm. A chiropractor’s job consists of realigning the spine and freeing up motion in the joints. Chiropractors specialize in promoting and bolstering great posture for life, health and wellness. If you have concerns regarding your posture, chiropractic care may be the answer for you. Get in, get adjusted, stand up straight and live an amazing life of health, love and wellness.