Chiropractic is always looking at the things we do, such as how we work on our computers, how we do household chores, how we work in the garden, or how we check our social media, can either improve our health or destroy it —simply by how we manage our posture. As far back as Hippocrates, we have known that posture has a profound impact on our health. It is the window to our spine.
More times than I could possibly count, we see people in a state of poor health because of daily strain and stress on their body from excessive computer work, phone use, how we position our bodies when lifting, or sedentary lifestyle.
The most common source of knee injuries and of most pain in general, is not from strains or even arthritis. It is from abnormal wear and tear due to everyday postural misalignment. Researchers have found that for every inch our head moves forward, it increases the weight of the head by 10 pounds. That means, if we have a habit of looking down at our phone, we can increase the weight of our head by 30 or more pounds!
Other studies have found that non-neutral postures can pull and stretch tendons, blood vessels, and nerves over ligaments or bone, resulting in them becoming pinched or restricted. Posture affects and moderates every physiological function in the body from breathing to hormone production.
Despite the fact that posture affects and moderates every physiological function, from breathing to nervous system function, and despite the considerable evidence that posture affects physiology and bodily functions, the significant influence of posture on health is not addressed by most physicians.
A link between the muscles in the neck, blood pressure, and heart rate has long been suspected. Researchers at the University of Leeds, have found a direct neural connection between these neck muscles and a part of the brainstem — called the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) — which plays a crucial role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure.
The finding could explain why blood pressure and heart rate sometimes change when the neck muscles are injured. Similarly, it is possible that hours spent hunched over a computer may raise blood pressure. The pathway exists for bad posture to really have a negative effect, according to researchers.
Good posture is our theme for the month of May because we know that it improves our overall health and even our physical appearance. Poor posture, on the other hand, promotes back pain and can affect the position and function of our abdominal organs, inhibit breathing and oxygen intake, and cause headaches. It may even affect our mood.
Ways To Improve Posture.
One simple way to improve our posture is to move. Getting up from the couch, desk, computer, or phone, is one of the best methods to improve your body’s alignment. It engages our muscles, improves our circulation, and even improves our mood. If you spend a considerable amount of time in front of electronics, like a computer or phone, ensure that it is positioned in a way that is comfortable. Your head needs to be straight, shoulders relaxed, and hands in a comfortable position.
Avoid working on the computer while in bed, this will lead to hunching of the shoulders and prolonged looking down posture. Over time this will strain the muscles in the neck and compress the discs in your spine. What you sit on does make a big difference. If you want to strengthen your posture and improve your alignment while working on a computer, try a standing desk or an exercise ball as a seat. This will help to engage the core muscles while you are working.
If you have specific questions about spinal health a positive move would be seeking a posture evaluation with your chiropractor. Invite your friends and family to get a checkup!
- Dr. Andrew Scott