Poor Posture and Your Health
Poor posture is becoming the norm instead of the exception, and poor posture is also one of the leading causes of back pain.
While it can be said that “posture is the window to your spine,” your posture also can alter the way you feel about yourself. Individuals who sit with proper posture have higher self-esteem, better moods, higher energy levels, and even more positive speech. Bad posture not only affects your mental well being, but has detrimental physical effects as well.
Effect Poor Posture has on Your Spine
Your spine houses and protects the entire nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that branch out throughout the entire body. Your nervous system controls and coordinates the function of everything within the body; every organ, every cell, every muscle, and every tissue. Poor posture changes the biomechanics of the spine, which alters the way your body functions and interferes with the nervous system. It puts the spine into a stressful position. Since only 10% of your nervous system feels pain, you can have spine and nervous system problems going on for years and not feel them.
7 Unhealthy Effects of Poor Posture
One sign of poor posture is forward or anterior head carriage. Anterior head carriage is when the head is too far forward in front of shoulders and the shoulders lined up over the hips. With proper posture and alignment, looking at you from the side, the ears should be lined up over the shoulders. When the head moves too far forward, it results in immense pressure on the spine and muscle tension. With increased pressure on the nerves in the upper neck, symptoms like headaches occur. 95% of headaches come from neck problems.
As the head continues to move forward over the shoulders, dysfunction within the upper cervical spine (upper neck) occurs and results in vertigo or dizziness.
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint):
Increasing muscle tension caused by anterior head carriage puts pressure on the muscles and ligaments of the jaw resulting in issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As the head drops forward the lower jaw drops down and forward misaligning the TMJ and leading to further jaw issues.
- Neck Pain/Arm Pain:
Poor posture leads to misalignments within the cervical spine, which speeds up degenerative processes such as arthritis. These misalignments can also put pressure on the nerves of the cervical spine (brachial plexus), which travel down the arms and into the hands.
- Shoulder Pain:
Another sign of poor posture is rounded shoulders. This occurs along with anterior head carriage with spinal misalignments that force the spine forwards and internally rotates the shoulders. This causes the postural muscles in the upper back and mid back to weaken. This internal rotation of the shoulders, leads to shoulder pain and dysfunction.
- Mid-back Pain and Digestive Issues:
Mid-back pain can also be a result from poor posture and specifically rounded shoulders. The poor alignment in the mid back puts pressure on the nerves originating from that location, which travel and control (innervate) the organs of digestion. When there is dysfunction within the mid back it can lead to digestive issues like heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion because the nerves are not able to function at 100%. Rounded shoulders also interfere with the ability of the lungs to expand to their maximum volume.
- Low-back Pain and Sciatica:
Poor posture can also present with forward tilting of the hips, causing an increase in the curve of the lumbar (low back) spine, and a protruding stomach. This position places stress over both the hip joints and lower back which causes pain and dysfunction in both regions. Dysfunction in the lumbar spine can result in sciatica or leg pain, tingling or numbness as well as issues with the colon, bladder, or reproductive organs due to their lumbar innervations.
Causes of Poor Posture
Poor posture can be caused three different ways: positional, structural, and psychological.
Positional, which is caused by poor habits and poor ergonomics, is seen in those who sit or stand for long hours during the workday, especially in front of a computer. Also poor posture can be seen in children and teenagers due to heavy backpack loads. Today’s technology has millions of us looking down into our laps for hours as we text and play video games. Even while walking many have their heads down to text instead of keeping their head up to see where they are going. Structural issues, or pre-existing conditions, such as spinal misalignments, scoliosis, previous injuries, arthritis, and muscle imbalances can also cause poor posture. Psychological causes such as depression or poor self-esteem can also result in poor posture.
How to Change Your Poor Posture to Good Posture
The number one challenge to good posture is sitting too much. Movement on a regular basis is imperative for a healthy spine, and good posture. Standing up and moving every 30 minutes not only provides a physical break, but also gives you a chance to refocus on what you are doing and to make sure you are sitting properly. If you haven’t read them yet, please read our articles on how Sitting Too Much Can Kill You, and how to Stay Fit While You Sit. This is extremely important for your long-term health.
Proper workplace and sleep ergonomics are key factors in maintaining proper posture. With poor posture, your muscles have to work harder to compensate for the lack of support, leading to increased tension and stiffness. It’s important to make a conscious effort to sit properly as often as you can, adjusting the height and angle of your chairs so they are as ergonomic as possible and put you in the optimal sitting position. You need to make sure your computer monitor is raised to the proper height, and that you are not putting pressure on your wrists while using your keyboard.
TIP: The simple way to relieve pressure on your wrists and avoid carpal tunnel syndrome is to keep your keyboard away from the edge of your desk. There should be at least 12 inches of space between your keyboard and the edge of your desk. This allows your forearms to take the pressure off your wrists.
Exercise and stretching are key factors in combating poor posture. The more inactive we are the tighter and less flexible our muscles become, so strengthening our core is key to the maintenance of good posture. View our core strengthening exercise video for exercises to strengthen your core. Correctly done yoga poses, such as warrior and triangle poses, can also help with flexibility and proper posture.
Standing properly is also important for the health of your spine and good posture. Your spine is designed to support your weight for a lifetime. When your posture is proper, your spine will carry your weight with ease. Poor posture, such as standing with your head forward and down, will round your shoulders forward and pull your neck (cervical spine) and upper back (thoracic spine) into a forward, bent over position. Not only will this effect the alignment of your spine, but it damage and weaken the attached muscles and ligaments. Standing up straight with your head up, shoulders squared back, and stomach in will help keep your spine in proper alignment and save you a lot of pain. When you stand correctly, with your weight distributed evenly on both feet, you should be able to draw a straight line from your ear lobes through your shoulders, down through your hips, your knees, directly to the middle of your ankles. So, be aware of your posture and make an effort to stand up straight — just as your mother told you to do!
Chiropractic Care and Good Posture
Chiropractic adjustments are important aspects of proper posture. Without the proper alignment within the spine, good posture cannot be achieved. Chiropractic adjustments correct the misalignments within the spine that put pressure on the nerves and interfere with the nervous system. This allows your body to function at its optimum potential!
Years of poor posture will cause misalignments throughout your spine, as well as physical problems. At Kempsville Chiropractic our doctors will locate these misalignments (subluxations) in the spine and gently adjust them into their proper alignment. We will also work with you to help you correct any problems you may be having with your posture. Good posture leads to a healthy spine, which in turn leads to a healthy life.
If you are looking for help correcting poor posture, or dealing with the headaches, back back, and other problems poor posture can cause, please contact the doctors of Kempsville Chiropractic, 757.467.5258, and arrange for a consultation. If you know of others who can benefit from this article, please share and recommend this article.
- Neck Pain
- Can Sitting Too Much Kill You?
- Stay Fit While You Sit
- Strengthen Your Core (Exercise Video)
Have you heard of "Text Neck"?
Technology is great — except when it isn't. Most people today would be lost without their smart phones. Yet, this great technology is literally a pain in the neck. And it's not just texting. It's gaming and emailing too.
The average human head weighs around 10 pounds. And when you are sitting properly your neck (cervical spine) is designed to easily handle that weight. But, once you start leaning your head forward it puts more pressure on your spine. For each inch you tilt your head forward, the pressure on your cervical spine doubles. So if you're looking at a smartphone or video game in your lap, your neck is now holding up what feels like a 20 or 30 pound head!
Individuals who spend a lot of time texting, sending emails, or playing games while looking down at their laps will experience headaches and neck pain on a regular basis.
Do you or someone you know suffer from "text neck"? Contact Kempsville Chiropractic at 757.467.5258 and let our doctors help.
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These articles are the property of Kempsville Chiropractic. They may not be reused without permission. You are welcome to link to this article. Kempsville Chiropractic has been proudly serving Virginia Beach, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia since 1996.
The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.
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