Poor posture is endemic. Our new lifestyle and technology are creating detrimental habits. How concerned should you be?
We all know that good posture is better than poor posture. But why do we struggle with standing up straight? As a chiropractor, it hurts me to sit down in an airport and watch what has happened to the vast majority of spines. I try to turn my brain off, but I can't unsee it. Over 20% of the US population is living with chronic pain and I often wonder how we got here (1). There are many things to blame, but let's start with posture. How big is the impact to your health?
Let's look at 3 reasons why posture evaluation is important.
#1 - Pain
Your posture is hurting you. Literally.
Muscles get tight when we keep them short for long periods of time. Joints will stiffen if we don't move them. In typical poor computer posture, muscles in the neck, upper traps, chest, and hip flexors will shorten and tighten. This may be why you always need massages or get headaches. Almost everyone has tight hip flexors contributing to lower back dysfunction, and tight upper traps creating tenderness on top of your shoulders.
The real kicker is when you start to feel pain or numbness traveling down your arm or leg. An evaluation will help determine if muscles are to blame, or if there is a pinched nerve in your spine. Finding the root cause of symptoms is key.
You can take medication for a painful splinter, but at the end of the day you still have to take the splinter out! The same goes for many other discomforts. Symptoms may continue to return until you have addressed the root issue.
#2 - Movement
Not only are we sitting in poor posture for a 50-hour work week. We also are not moving enough. Being able to take your spine and limbs through full range of motion will save your joints in the future. The longer you wait, the more you stiffen. Before you know it, you can't check the blind spots in your car or reach over your head.
"Objects in motion, stay motion" -Isaac Newton
To find out where you are prone to stress, injury, or degeneration, you have to find out where you are not moving well. Over time, poor posture will reduce motion in our spine. Turning your head becomes difficult, and the middle of your back stiffens into a big hump. Move it or lose it!
#3 - Breathing
Hunched over posture compresses your lungs like an accordion. Eventually your breathing capacity becomes hampered contributing to a myriad of problems throughout your body.
Not only is hunching forward strenuous on muscles, it can also reduce lung capacity. Improving your ability to sit or stand in better posture allows you to expand your lungs fully.
Poor posture may prevent proper inhales and exhales by inducing chest breathing. This leads to tight shoulder and shoulder blade muscles that never seem to relax.
Faulty breathing and conditions like sleep apnea have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and fatigue, to name a few (3).
Remember "BBB". Belly breathing is best. We rely on belly breathing to keep the diaphragm muscle working optimally. This is crucial for core stability and a major reason why faulty breathing patterns keep lower back pain persistent and difficult to rehab entirely.
A posture analysis shows you where your head is relative to your body. How far forward is it? Is it tilting to the side. Are you shoulders even? Are you getting a hump at the top of your back and base of your neck?
The first step is to find out where you're at. Then you can discover what you need.
Be proactive. Not reactive.
Chiropractors can identify stress in the body before they turn into major situations and problems. Keep doing the things you love throughout your life. Be active. Be as healthy as you want to be and don't wait for a crisis to change your health direction!
Yong RJ, Mullins PM, Bhattacharyya N. Prevalence of chronic pain among adults in the United States. Pain. 2022 Feb 1;163(2):e328-e332. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002291. PMID: 33990113.