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Posture Month 2017

By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

With abundant sunshine and the return of warmer weather, the month of May also brings Posture Month! Across the nation, multitudes of health care providers - doctors, therapists, trainers, and educators - are attempting to inform the public about the consequences of poor posture. As a result, this month’s article will discuss posture, how it affects your health, and what you can do about it!

For more information, please visit www.posturemonth.org


In my short time as a practicing doctor of chiropractic, one of the most common causes of lower back and neck pain that I’ve seen is improper posture.

perfect postural form in bodyWith perfect form, a person’s head, shoulders, and hips, should be in a straight line, as seen in the image to the right. In reality, many people demonstrate any number of postural deficiencies, such as a forward head, where the head juts out over the torso, or rounded shoulders pointed forward.

According to PostureMonth.org, 65 million people in the United States suffer from back pain, and that posture related back pain is the third leading reason for ALL visits to the doctor’s office! (1) Additionally, for those under the age of 45 years, low back pain is the most common disability and may cause severe consequences for those individuals, including lost productivity at work, the inability to perform daily life functions, and overall decrease in a person’s ability to enjoy his life (understandably so!) (1).

In our modern society, many human beings tend to sit for long periods of time, if not all day (I wrote about why sitting is bad for your health in the April 2017 article, so I recommend you give that piece a read, too!). However, our bodies were not designed to sit for such long periods. Human bodies were designed to stand, walk, run, play, and move! (3) Sitting for prolonged hours causes a weakening and atrophying of certain muscles, which can then lead to poor posture and, ultimately, back pain (3).

What About Text Neck?
With the advent of smartphones and portable tablet computers, many of usfall victim to poor posture, either while sitting or standing. Rather thanlooking straight ahead and keeping the natural curvature of the cervical spine (the lordosis) intact, many of us tend to arch our heads downwards by bringing our chin towards the chest in an attempt to use our phone or tablet.

For the physics geeks, think about this: an average human head weighs roughly 12 pounds (imagine a bowling ball). With the neck bent forward, the center of gravity of the head shifts over the chest and begins to add weight to the cervical spine. According to the Washington Post, “at a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds”. Over time, this can lead to an “early wear-and-tear- on the spine, [causing] degeneration and [requiring] surgery” (2).

How Does All This Affect My Health?
For those who work on their posture, positive benefits abound! Per PostureMonth.org,
people with good posture enjoy:

As for the negatives, poor posture from the bent-forward position seen in sitting and in the aging process may compress the internal organs and lead to further problems with digestion,
breathing, blood flow, and heart disease risk. Improper posture also places increased stress on the the joints of the spine and can further the risk of developing osteoarthritis (4).

What Can I Do About My Posture?
First, get up and move! Additionally, go see your chiropractor! Your chiropractor is a trained health care provider who is an expert in the musculoskeletal system. Many chiropractors use a holistic approach in determining the cause of a patient’s presenting condition. A good chiropractor can provide you with exercises, stretches, and tips on how to keep your posture in top form, whether at work, play, or home!

At home, keep it simple. Get up and move every 30-45 minutes and take a 5 minute stretch/walk break. Avoid bending your head down to read, scoot your rear to the front of the chair, sit up nice and straight, and roll those shoulders back! You will tire of this position quickly, but don’t fret! The more you practice this position, the easier it will become, and in no time you’ll be a posture pro! It also helps to position a mirror next to your chair to see how your posture looks.

posture month

In any case, schedule an appointment to see your chiropractor and get professional help if
you’re suffering from neck or back pain, as your posture may be the source of it.

References For This Article:

1. About Posture Month. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
http://posturemonth.org/about-posture-month/

2. Bever, L. (2014, November 20). ‘Text neck’ is becoming an ‘epidemic’ and could wreck your spine. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/11/20/text-neck-is-becoming-an-epidemic-and-could-wreck-your-spine/?utm_term=.d150b67ba5ef

3. Get the Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2017, from http://posturemonth.org/get-the-facts/

4. Posture Impact. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2017, from
http://posturemonth.org/posture-affects/

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