Posture is a Total-Body Practice that Has Total-Body Effects
Posture, or the way you carry your body while you sit, stand, walk, or lie down, may have seemed like something unimportant your parents or teachers scolded you for in your youth. As you grew older, however, you’ve probably realized that having good posture is very important for a number of reasons. Poor posture can lead to tension, pain, abnormal spinal curves, and much more.
Proper body alignment stems from posture, and with good alignment can come good health. At Symmetry Health Center, one of the first things we assess in our Alameda and Oakland, CA, patients is the presence of postural abnormalities. This is because poor posture can change the way your spine is shaped and how your muscles support it. Without you realizing it, these things often become the foundation of numerous health complications.
It’s important to realize that maintaining good posture goes beyond just your back. To relieve unnecessary pressure on your spine, you must be mindful of how all your body parts are aligned and held. In turn, this total-body effort will have either positive or negative total-body effects.
The harmful effects of poor posture
Two of the most common problems resulting from poor posture are neck and back pain. Sitting and standing improperly can put stress on your joints, muscles, ligaments, and nerves, causing acute or chronic pain down your spine. This stress may also increase your risk for strains or sprains and reduce your mobility.
However, posture can also have many further-reaching effects on your body. What most people don’t realize is that when poor posture alters the curvature of your spine, your nerves and organs can be compressed, and muscles throughout your body can be over-stressed. These postural abnormalities may cause much more serious health problems, including:
- Headaches: Poor posture in the neck and shoulders can put unnecessary stress on the muscles in these areas, leading to severe tension. Chronically tensed neck muscles can cause tension headaches.
- TMJ: If you consistently hold your head in a downward position, you may over-use the muscles under your jaw and put pressure on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When these areas are affected, you may experience pain, popping, and spasms of the jaw.
- Breathing problems: Slouching forward can compress your diaphragm, making it more difficult for you to breathe deeply. If this type of posture is maintained over time, your chest may experience tightness that makes difficult breathing a persistent reality.
- Hip and knee pain: When the spine develops an abnormal curve due to poor posture, it can affect the way you sit and walk. This not only affects your back, but also your hips – potentially throwing them out of alignment. With the hips suffering from immobility, you may also begin experiencing problems with the knees, as the legs will find ways to compensate that puts extra stress on the joints.
- Fatigue and mood: Poor posture weakens some muscles and puts lots of stress on others, causing persistent tension. When these muscles have to work overtime to hold your body upright, they can become fatigued and painful. Not only can all this energy output make you feel exhausted, but it might also dampen your mood day after day.
Ways to improve your posture
Fortunately, maintaining good posture is not a difficult practice. By understanding what good posture looks and feels like and then committing to establishing good postural habits, you can make changes that reduce your risk for health problems and make you feel better. Remember – posture includes all parts of your body, from your chin to your toes!
Make a point to follow these posture guidelines every day:
- While standing: Good standing posture includes standing with your weight balanced on both feet equally. Your feet should be around shoulder-width apart, your knees should be slightly bent, and your hips should be balanced over your knees. Stand tall with your shoulders even and rolled back and your chest pushed slightly forward. Your chin should rest parallel to the floor.
- While sitting: Seated posture should largely mimic your standing posture. Both of your feet should rest evenly on the floor, with your knees balanced above them. Sit toward the front of your chair with your core activated. You may want to place a cushion behind you for lumbar support. Roll your shoulders back and keep your chin parallel to the floor – not pulled to your chest.
- While laying down: Sleep flat on your back, using a pillow to support your neck. If you are more comfortable sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees for better support.
Sometimes, poor posture is not the result of a bad habit, but of a muscular weakness, mobility problem, or spinal misalignment. Unfortunately, these things might be exacerbated by poor posture, causing more problems.
If you’re struggling to maintain good posture or are experiencing health problems you believe are related to your spine, contact Symmetry Health Center. Our chiropractic offices in Alameda and Oakland, CA, utilize a highly researched and comprehensive technique program called Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP), which aims to not only identify, but also correct spinal abnormalities and the health problems they may cause.
Chiropractic BioPhysics, or CBP, is one of the most scientific, researched, and results-oriented corrective care techniques. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health, eliminating nerve interference and addressing the source of pain, fatigue, and disease. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is gentle, painless, and non-invasive.