“Stand up straight! Stop slouching!” You probably received commands like that as a child from a parent, teacher, or maybe even a dance instructor or sports coach. The fact is that while they may have seemed just to be giving you a hard time, they were actually teaching you an important life lesson. Proper posture is vital to good health. We’re going to take a closer look at why posture is so important and how upper cervical chiropractic can help you to achieve it.
Common Posture Problems
There are several things that people commonly do that are big no-nos when it comes to posture. Here are 4 of the most common posture issues:
- Hunching – This most commonly occurs when someone is sitting for long hours. Whether you are a student or an office worker, it can be tough to avoid hunching over the desk by the end of a long day. In fact, the position may begin to feel more natural than sitting up straight.
- Rounded Shoulders – This often relates to long periods of sitting as well. Instead of having the shoulders back, it becomes more comfortable to let them slouch forward and down. This often combines with hunching.
- Forward Head – Craning the neck forward puts a tremendous about of strain on the spine. The head already weighs 10-12 pounds on its own. Lean that head forward, even a few degrees, and the amount of pressure compounds. Get your head into a 60-degree forward angle and you are placing 60 pounds of pressure on your spine. How do we end up craning the neck so often? It’s usually to check a mobile device.
- Pelvic Tilt – When the pelvis tilts forward, it shifts your entire center of gravity. Your backside sticks out further, but so does your belly. It usually combines with a forward head position. It is important to keep the hips forward so that the spine lines up properly with the head pretty much dead even over the pelvis.
What Is the Importance of Good Posture?
Posture has an effect on just about all of the major systems of the body. Consider the following effects that poor posture can have on your body:
- Central Nervous System – Poor posture has major effects on the brain and communication within the body. While posture alone doesn’t cause depression, it can make the condition worse according to a study performed at San Francisco State University. It also affects stress levels according to research performed at Harvard. For example, men who slouch have less testosterone but more cortisol (the stress hormone).
- The Vascular System – Poor posture affects your circulatory system. For instance, you can restrict proper blood flow to your legs when you sit with them crossed. Additionally, Australian researchers discovered that people who use poor posture are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Digestion – Slouching folds up your intestines. This can lead to chronic bouts of constipation. Good posture is necessary if you want to stay regular and keep your intestines healthy and happy. By the way, it can also lead to bloating that makes you look heavier than you are, so posture may also be important for self-esteem.
- Energy and Appearance – Good posture leads to higher energy levels. It makes you appear more confident (even if you aren’t), which means it may be good for your career and social life as well. If you find yourself tired at the end of a long day of doing nothing but sitting, your posture may be the problem. And if people tell you that you need to be more confident but can’t explain why they feel you lack confidence, they may just mean you need to stand and sit up straight.
Situations Where Posture Is Often Ignored
We’ve already addressed some of the times when people ignore posture, but here are a few things to pay particular attention to:
- Mobile device usage – The average person checks his or her smartphone dozens of times per day. That’s a lot of time spent with a forward head position. It can even be enough to cause a misalignment that makes forward head position feel more natural than looking straight ahead.
- At a desk – When sitting at a desk, the eyes should be looking straight ahead. That may call for setting monitors at a higher level. Feet should be flat on the floor rather than sitting with legs crossed. Be sure your chair has enough lumbar support.
- Driving – We probably slouch more in the driver’s seat of a car than anywhere else. Whether it is a daily commute or you drive for a living, proper posture while driving is vital for good health.
Improving Posture Naturally
Upper cervical chiropractic care can help provide the boost you need to break the routine of poor posture. Many patients say that good posture feels more natural once the atlas (C1 vertebra) is in proper alignment. It makes sense. When the head is properly balanced on the top bone of the neck, the rest of the spine can follow suit.
If you sit for long periods of time each day or if you struggle with proper posture in general, upper cervical chiropractic may be the right option for you. Proper posture should never hurt or be uncomfortable. If you feel better slouching, it’s time to correct the underlying misalignments that create the posture issues. Upper cervical chiropractic can help. Schedule a consultation today to learn more.