OUR POSTURE SUCKS – By Dr. Adam J. Friedman, Margate / Coconut Creek, Florida
Our posture sucks! That’s how I’m starting this blog post, hopefully that gets people’s attention. Over the years, especially in the last decade, as our society becomes more now, now, now, we have totally disregarded the fact that the position our bodies are in throughout the course of the day usually dictates how healthy we are. If we don’t consciously begin to think about where our bodies are in space, our posture and the posture of our children will continue to worsen; thus resulting in more ramped musculoskeletal disorders that are typically easily avoidable.
Sitting and standing with proper postural, spinal alignment is what I call a “foundational” aspect of our bodies. Like the foundational components of building a new home, the body’s foundation or CORE is the most important. With a good CORE, we can hold ourselves up more easily thus preventing the elements beyond the CORE to break down over time. Proper postural alignment is crucial in allowing an individual to work more efficiently with less fatigue and strain on the body’s ligaments and muscles. SIMPLY BEING AWARE of good posture is the first step in breaking down old, poor postural habits, thus reducing unnecessary stress and strain on your spine.
Posture has long been studied as a potential cause of lower back and neck pain, and in this blog post, we will take a closer look at some recent research discussing the issue.
In an article published by Sam Murphy, Peter Buckle and David Stubbs titled, “Classroom Posture and Self-reported Back and Neck pain in Schoolchildren,” the study aimed to identify the extent of back pain experienced by 11-14 year old schoolchildren, and establish the intensity, duration and frequency of exposure to physical risk factors present in schools. The sitting postures of 66 children were recorded in normal lessons utilizing the Portable Ergonomic Observation Method. The study found significant associations between flexed or “slouched” postures and neck/upper back and lower back pain.
I have seen this all too often over the course of 13 years of practice. More and more adolescents coming in with back/neck pain and headaches simply because they are sitting in such an extreme slouched position for long periods of time throughout the day at school.
Another very eye-opening study evaluated a group of 50 patients with long-term, chronic lower back pain with degenerative disc disease and a group of 50 chronic lower back pain patients without Degenerative Disc Disease that served as a “control group.” Researchers were able to measure the degree of lordosis or curvature, by looking at the person from the side using two different methods. The group with degenerative disc disease had an overall reduction in the lumbar lordosis curve (less arched) using both methods of measuring. The researchers concluded that the patients with a straighter, more flat curve had more incidents of degenerative disc disease.
Another study in December of 2014 evaluated low back posture in two groups of lower back pain patients and its relationship with problems associated with intervertebral disc disease. If you to look closely at a person from the side, most people notice that the low back area, along with the neck, should have an arched or inward curve. This is called cervical and lumbar “lordosis” or “sway back” area in the lower back. These areas can be highly variable in terms of the angle or amount of arch from individual to individual and typically differ between males and females.
The curvatures of the spine are ESSENTIAL in being able to distribute the weight equally throughout the spinal discs. The spinal discs are the shock absorbers of the spine that sit between each vertebral segment and house all of our sensitive neurological structures. Equal weight distribution means an equal amount of pressure on each disc when either standing or sitting. With proper posture (along with precise chiropractic care) one is able to distribute the weight more evenly throughout all of the levels of our spine, reducing our risk of intervertebral disc disease or “degenerative” disc disease.
With degenerative disc disease, we loss vital nutrient and water content, which ultimately leads to less shock absorption. Nine times out of ten this will lead to pain and possibly nerve compression. The disk is approximately 80% water, and as we age, the water content gradually reduces and the disc spaces narrow, thus limiting the mobility of that part of the spine. More importantly, DDD usually narrows the size of the canals through which the spinal cord and nerve roots travel, called stenosis; which can be a very painful, debilitating back problem.
As a multi-disciplined chiropractor that is schooled in several different techniques, I can accurately and precisely guide patients in a direction that will lead them to less postural deficiencies. My initial consultation with most patients focuses exclusively on postural correction by simply giving them some easy tips on how to recognize and correct poor postural habits. In most instances, the patient already has neck or back pain due to postural deficiencies; where chiropractic care becomes necessary in order to help the body reposition itself; sometimes, gravity simply takes over and the altered biomechanics of our spine simply won’t allow us to practice good posture.
If the body has a noticeable postural imbalance, for example, a high right shoulder, forward head, elevated hip, over time, it can have a serious effect on the bodies’ nervous system and spine, as we have noted above. A chiropractor can help you correct poor posture and realign your spine to assure that the body is functioning optimally.
Remember these easy steps, mainly when standing. Make sure that you bear weight primarily on the balls of your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Let your arms hang naturally down at the sides of your body. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled back. Tuck your stomach in slightly or “engage” the CORE muscles. Keep your head level and in-line with your shoulders. If I were to draw a straight line from your side, the line should go from your ears, to shoulders, to hips, knees and ankle. If you’re forced to stand for a long period of time, make sure to shift your weight from your toes to heels and from side to side.
If you or anyone that you know would like some help improving your posture, you can count on Dr. Adam J. Friedman with CARE Wellness Center. I provide a full suite of integrative services including: x-rays, chiropractic care, postural exercises, massage therapy and rehabilitation to help correct any postural related problems you may be having. I offer free consultations and serve the communities of Margate, Coconut Creek and Coral Springs Florida.
Remember…EVERYONE can have good posture and chiropractic care can help with that in a gentle, non-invasive way.
GET HEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY!
Dr. Adam J. Friedman, D.C.
- Applied Ergonomics. Volume 35, Issue 2, March 2004, Pages 113-120. “Classroom Posture and Self-Reported Back and Neck Pain in Schoolchildren.” Sam Murphy, Peter Buckle and David Stubbs