Did you know posture ranks as one of the most important criteria for good health? All the nagging from your Mom really did have some value. Research has shown maintaining proper posture is just as important as following an exercise regimen or being mindful with eating or getting adequate sleep. Now, I am not saying we all need to walk like we are strutting down the catwalk, but focusing on proper alignment can make a significant improvement on quality of life.
When the joints, ligaments and muscles are in linear balance, it allows the internal organs to remain stable in their location and therefore the functioning of the body is seamless. You really wouldn’t think walking or sitting with a slouched appearance would make a big difference, but can it ever! The consequences of poor posture can over time lead to decreased flexibility and range of motion, digestive issues, headaches due to unnatural positioning, strain on the neck, and much more.
How in the world did we get here?
The good ole days were filled with non-stop outdoor activities, unlimited chores around the house, and when someone said close the screen, they meant the window screen. We also did not have the array of technology that has our heads bowed in surrender to the blinking LED light focusing on everyone else’s life except our own.
Many times we are not even aware of our positioning until we present with aches and pains the next day.
Some consequences of poor posture can result in:
- Accidents and falls due to the instability of the muscle
- Weight gain due to increased pain when attempting to exercise
- Headaches from undue strain on the head, neck and shoulder
- Depression due to feeling misaligned and imbalanced
- Fatigue due to poor sleep quality and lack of exercise
The beautiful part of posture is that it can be corrected. It just takes being mindful with each movement. Just as you work to bring your endocrine system back into balance, so must we put in the effort to realign the deviation we have created in our structural system.
Some of the causes of poor posture and how to fix them include:
- Over-pronation of feet. This leads to tightness in the calf muscles causing the knees to inwardly rotate and putting pressure on the hip and low back. Over-pronation can be treated with custom made orthotic inserts.
- Forward hip tilt. This results from sedentary lifestyles. Sitting in the constant hip flexion causes the hip flexors to shorten and tighten, thereby decreasing natural range of motion. To correct this issue, keep an active and physically fit lifestyle. Stretching the hip flexors also helps to open and relax this space.
- Rounded cervical spine, AKA “Hunchback.” The #1 reason that causes this is poor posture while sitting at a desk. The rounded nature of the spine causes the chest muscles to contract and fire. This anterior tightening helps to compensate for the pressure being placed on the chest. Correct this habit by pulling in the abdominal muscles and keep the shoulders away from the ears. Relax and consciously take slow deep breaths. This diaphragmatic breathing allows the rib cage space to open forcing the relaxation of the shoulders and upper back.
- Rounded shoulders. This is different than the rounded cervical spine. Try “The Pencil Test” to see if this could be the problem. Hold a pencil (or pen) in each hand. If the pencils are pointing straight forward with your arms comfortably at your sides, that indicates correct posture. If, on the other hand, the pencils are facing each other, or are rotated at an angle, then you have internally rotated shoulders. This is caused from poor sitting and typing posture or can occur with poor workout form. Correction techniques include foam rolling, myofascial release, and as always, sitting upright.
- Forward head. You may need to recruit help to identify if this is your problem. Stand to a profile and have someone check to see if your earlobe sits directly above the AC (shoulder joint). If the earlobe extends in front of the AC joint, this could indicate your posture is caused by forward head. This occurs due to leaning forward when sitting at computer. To help fix this problem, work in smaller time increments and allow yourself to reset.
These are only a few of the causes. Understanding the importance of a solid skeletal system can go a long way to optimal health.
So head up, stomach in, stand tall and march forward! Be mindful of your movements! You’ve got this!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.