Your posture can say many things about you. Looking at someone’s posture we can tell if they are cold, mad, tired and posture can even tell us something about confidence levels. Bad posture, in particular, can indicate certain health problems, but how do you know if you have a good posture or bad? This blog will dive into what correct posture is, how to improve posture, how to practice good posture and how bad posture correlates to aches and pains. Should you invest in a posture correction device? The answer may shock you.
What is the Proper Posture?
There are many false advertisements out there about what proper posture should look like, but there is only one correct answer. The most popular myth of good posture is found in the military! You see soldiers sticking their chests out creating this image of so-called good posture. Then there is the six pack or the hour glass figure that many go to the gym to achieve. The both actually restrict the ‘barrel’ that we ought to have indicating that volume of space we can fill with air with each breathing. To learn more about effective breathing check out my YouTube channel and subscribe to it for a collection of videos on how to breath with pelvic and abdominal diaphragm in mind. There are sports or activities like ballet or gymnastics that also encourage a posture that is unnatural and in fact, damaging to the effective posture. Unnaturally sticking out your chest creates an accentuated curve in the lower back which causes compression at those joints, often resulting in low back pain as an example. So now that I’ve torn down your original vision of what good posture should look like, here is what proper posture really is:
As explained in the video, a plumb line is used to determine if someone has good posture or not by checking for alignment of all four points:
- Ear Hole
- Middle of the Shoulder
- Hip Bone
- Bone on the outside of the ankle (lateral malleolus)
Postural deviations can occur for many reasons such as injury, sedentary lifestyle, increased use of technology or soft tissue imbalances. There are a few common types of posture dysfunction such as:
- Upper Cross Syndrome: That is when the shoulders and head are slouched forward because of weak back muscles and tight Pec minor muscles which lead to rolled shoulder joint(s).
- Lower Cross Syndrome: This occurs when your abdominal muscles are weak, and your lower back muscles tighten up. This causes an excessive curve in the low back and can result in pain in the area! Patients will also typically have tightened or hyperactive Quadriceps muscles with this condition.
- Layered Syndrome: This is a combination of both upper and lower cross syndrome.
How Does Posture Affect Your Health?
Postural deviations are not only unsightly but they can have a negative impact on your health. Some signs of postural decline to look out for include:
- Forward head
- Accentuated lumbar curvature
- Rolled-forward shoulders
By the time a patient decides to come to see me because they are experiencing pain, one postural deviation is accompanied by another and they now have a whole collection of problems like the Upper Cross, Lower Cross and Layered Cross Syndromes mentioned above. Why is that? If you sit behind a desk all day staring at a computer, your head begins to move forward. The muscles in the back of your neck need to work extra hard to bring your neck into the proper posture, which results in tension and neck pain. Over time, those muscles become so overstretched and, therefore weak that this forward head posture becomes you. Now you’re walking around with your head in front of your body, how does that work?
Well, to compensate for that added weight shift to the front end, you will develop an excessive curve in your lower back to keep you balanced and from falling forward. See the picture? Your brain has two main goals:
- To make you live a long life
- To make your day as pleasant as possible, given what you throw at it
You throw in the sedentary lifestyle and endless hours of computer work, and you still need to be able to walk from point A to point B, your brain will perform that task but at a cost. And that cost is your health. Not to make this into a neurology session but every function in your body, from organ function to movement of your body parts to the stomach digestion to heart beating are all controlled by your brain and the pathway to those parts is through your spine. Your posture simply gives us a clue as to the status of this ‘highway’ which is a clue to your inner health!
Bad posture limits the body’s ability to breathe effectively and efficiently. If you’re not breathing correctly, that means your body is not getting the ideal amount of oxygen, which can contribute to a number of health problems aside from neck and back pain. Oxygenation of your body is fundamental to your overall health and a collapsed posture, or an improper posture means deviation from the basic principles of health.
Will Posture Cause Headaches?
If you get headaches frequently, we both know it’s no fun, but the good news is that I may have a solution that you haven’t tried. Yes, your posture is likely a contributing factor. In the section above we explained what a decline in posture can look like. With a forward head posture, the muscles in the back of your neck are working overtime to keep your head from getting too far in front of your body. Safe to say this would cause a bit of tension. So you get a massage, take an Advil and you feel better for a few hours but the problem is still there! So how do we fix it? Find out in the sections below.
Will Chiropractic Help Posture?
Chiropractic is known to help a variety of issues by stimulating the body’s Central Nervous System which promotes proper body function. Although there are many benefits from Chiropractic adjustment, and it is essential to health, posture is not corrected by just adjusting the spine alone. Learn more about the benefits of chiropractic care with this blog ( https://chiropractor-irvine.com/chiropractic-and-health-benefits/ ). Chiropractic is a vital component of posture correction, but what comes after the adjustment is just as important.
Good posture can be faked just like when someone tells you to sit up straight and you do, but then what happens? After a minute of focusing on your posture, you get distracted and go right back to your slouching position. Why is this ineffective? The Central Nervous System (CNS) consists of the brain, spinal cord and all the nerves in your body. If the brain is not telling your body to be in the right posture, then it won’t last! This is how we get the brain to tell the body to maintain the correct posture…
How To Improve Posture?
If the desire to become healthy was like asking for a fire to keep ourselves nice and warm, then chiropractic adjustment is a spark; without the spark, there is no flame but just because you have a spark does not mean that you are guaranteed to get the fire. Adjustments stimulate the nervous system. What comes next is crucial and that is where many treatments fail. If it is not the right mixture of procedures customized to the patient’s needs, then the desired result is not gained!!
In patients’ very first visit, at our practice, we perform up to 79 Brain-Based Neurology and Posture tests to map the brain. We identify which portions are weak in regards to posture so we can address those areas with specific exercises. The brain, the command center, has to give the right command by looking at the ‘map’ known as Homunculus in order for the body to perform the action. The video below provides some examples of these exercises.
We combine Brain-Based Postural Neurology with Developmental Kinesiology or Functional Movement to improve overall body function, movement and posture. DNS is a practice that studies how babies from 3 months of age build muscles and development movement all the way through 12 months of age when they start walking.
If this movement pattern has worked for all babies with little to NO ability to move, to moving perfectly, if it is for everyone regardless of gender, location, race, or genetic background, then why not learn from that? Why re-invent the wheels that we KNOW work perfectly? EVERY single baby learns to move perfectly; it is the lifestyle of playing one-sided sports, getting injured, having a sedentary lifestyle, etc. that messes up that perfect initial year or so that it took to perfect the art of movement! Dive into DNS ( https://chiropractor-irvine.com/postural-rehab-exercises-and-movement/ )on our website to learn more about what it is and why it works. This video shows how we all moved at just 3 months of age, and how we can apply that to the treatment of a variety of cases.
This is how we correct a forward head posture, not by attaching some zapping device to your back.
Are Posture Correctors Harmful?
If you’re concerned about your posture, which brought you to this blog, I’m sure you’ve seen the plethora of posture correcting devices currently trending. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.. they don’t work! Not only do they NOT work, but some devices can actually contribute to the damage of other structures. For example, there is a posture brace that’s shaped like an infinity sign and it holds your shoulders back in place. Only, it doesn’t place your shoulder in the center of the joint but pulls it so far back that it causes you to stick your chest out. This results in the military posture we talked about earlier. This can be damaging for the shoulder joint itself, but also adds to the postural decline.
These devices are not only a waste of money but can be damaging. There is one product out there called Intelliskin that I actually like and think it is a very useful tool. It is designed specifically to stimulate the brain for subtle postural cues. Check out this review video to learn more!