With May being National Correct Posture Month, it seems only right to think about ways to improve the posture. “We all heard it when we were growing up – ‘stand up straight’, ‘you're slouching’. Your mom probably wanted you to look confident and proud but the bottom line is, good posture is good for your health.
The average American sits for 56 hours a week, often leading to poor posture. Spending all day tapping away on a keyboard, straining over paperwork, and then spending hours at home watching TV can have dramatic affects on posture. The muscles tire and the body shifts position, causing some muscle groups to become tight, stretched, and weak.
Furthermore, sitting for extended periods of time year after year can have a negative effect on our overall health. It can add to decreased circulation, slower metabolism, challenge blood sugar balance, and create increased stress on postural muscle balance. When the back is not properly aligned, the body's center of gravity shifts, putting more stress and load on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. Poor posture is a major cause of lower back pain. Also when you slouch, your internal organs may be slightly compressed.
The effects of poor posture are not just reflected in your mirror. Major medical journals have published studies showing posture to be strong indicator of overall health:
• “All measures of health status showed significantly poorer scores as C7 plumb line deviation increased.” SPINE, 2005
• “Older men and women with hyperkyphotic postures have higher mortality rates.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2004
• “Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.” American Journal of Pain Management, 1994
• “Bad posture could raise your blood pressure. Study finds neurolink between position of neck muscles and high blood pressure.” The Journal of Neuroscience, 2007
For Correct Posture Month Doylestown Chiropractor; Dr. Jeff McQuaite offers the following tips for sitting healthy.
• Lumbar Support: Sit in a chair with back/lumbar support or put small pillow behind lower back; resting buttock, mid back on chair
• Sitting Posture: Have both feet flat on the floor with knees slightly higher than your hips or place step stool under your feet.
Elbows should be comfortable at your side or resting on an arm-rest. This allows your shoulders to be relaxed. Your shoulders should also be relaxed, down, and shoulder blades gently engaged (not rounded forward). Your head should be looking straight ahead and chin should be gently tilted down and in.
• Evaluate your workstation: A workstation is anywhere that an individual spends a notable amount of time daily and for many of us, our primary workstation is standing or sitting at a desk. “If you’re sitting, don’t drop a ton of money on an ergonomic chair. Instead, position the chair to provide lumbar, shoulder, and if needed, head support.”
• Breathing: Focus on abdominal/belly breathing through the day to increase oxygen to body and stay relaxed.
• Sleep better: Make sure to have a mattress that offers support and one that can be “rotated” every few months to prevent body indentations.
• Hydrate: Drink water regularly.
• Move regularly: Get up every 15 minutes to 30 minutes to stretch, move, and breathe!
The relentless pull of gravity, combined with work and play habits, means poor posture is NOT self correcting. However, in many cases the effects of poor posture can be stopped and even reversed. Additional stress on muscles and joints can be reduced. Your body can spend less energy on balance and more energy on the things you like to do.
Along with important lifestyle changes to improve and support healthy posture, visit your doctor of chiropractic periodically for spinal checkups and care. “Good posture is a day-by-day activity with a lifetime of rewards” states Dr. Jeff McQuaite of Azzatori Chiropractic.
National Correct Posture Month offers important opportunities to educate individuals and their families on the importance of healthy posture and chiropractic’s role in maintaining a healthy spine and nervous system.
Dr. Jeff McQuaite
295 Logan Street
Doylestown, Pa. 18901