Bad Posture Deprives You from Health

In 2006, the reputable medical journal of SPINE published a study observing the effects of bad posture on health. It was done by a team of all medical doctors headed up by Dr. Steven Glassman. They measured posture in 752 subjects from the sagittal plane (The side of the body) using full-spine x-rays.

They took measurements from the C7 (last bone of the neck) and took plumb-line measurements as it relates to the sacrum (your sits bone). Their findings were ASTONISHING!!

ALL MEASURES OF HEALTH STATUS showed significantly POORER SCORES AS POSTURE DEVIATIONS INCREASED.

bad posture

Even minor forward head posture was shown to be detrimental. From breathing and heart rate, to pain and disability, all health markers that were measured worsened as the posture deviations increased.

This again clearly demonstrates the relationship between a bad spine(vertebral subluxation) and its implications on human health, particularly as it relates to non-musculoskeletal physiology.

All Chiropractic adjustments help to restore posture by improving motion and spinal integrity which improves afferent input into the spinal cord and brain, thus, allowing the body to comprehend and balance itself better in relation to gravity.

Here are a few things that can negatively impact posture:

1. Muscle imbalance
This is likely the #1 reason why most people have poor posture. If all of your muscles have the same tone (i.e. same degree of resting contraction of a muscle which establishes the length of the muscle) then optimal posture should be maintained. When opposing muscles (e.g. tricep and bicep of the upper arm) have unequal tone then it will change the position of the joint it is working on (in this case the elbow).

Indeed, if you observe a crowd you may see a variety of elbow positions when at rest, some more bent than others. If you consider the body as a whole, such an imbalance involving many muscles will have a striking effect on your posture. Muscle rehabilitation and specific exercise will target and eradicate these problems.

2. Lack of exercise
This is a no brainer. Modern humans are drastically “under exercised” compared to our prehistoric ancestors. We need to move in order to train our muscles to stay toned and strong. Most people today have muscle weakness to the point of posture breakdown!

3. Sustained immobile postures
Sitting is now considered more harmful to the body than smoking. Prolonged sitting is probably the single most detrimental activity anyone can do. We simply did not evolve to sit all day long. It surprises me that many patients remark that sitting shouldn’t be bad since it is not like labouring work or repetitive factory work for instance. Well that is not true. Sitting is actually active but it is activating your brain and your body’s physiology in very particular ways that lead not only to poor posture but also greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. So if your occupation involves sitting you may want to start standing!

4. Sitting ergonomics
There really is no such thing as healthy sitting. But if you’re going to sit, make sure you SIT UP! If you slouch you are in more trouble than sitting up straight. Slouching puts immense load on your spine. It not only increases the potential for injury to joints, muscle and discs but also increases the potential to develop osteoarthritis, breathing difficulties, digestive and circulatory problems.

5. Repetitive motions
Toxic movements result from repetition. We have evolved to move constantly through the day though in a multitude of ways. We weren’t designed to do the same motions all day long. So twisting all day working on a factory line or being bent over shoveling dirt all day or laying tiles on all fours will do more harm than good. A simple rule is to keep movement varied and novel. Try doing different things when you get the chance… when was the last time you climbed a tree?!

6. Pain, injury, and muscle guarding
 When you have sustained an injury or are in pain your body will begin to adapt and this ultimately changes your “normal” posture. This is an adaptive response that is important in the short term. However, if such postures or muscle tightness remain after the injury has healed or pain subsides then it will be setting you up for further problems in the future. An important part of any rehabilitation process is getting the body back to normal function. It’s not just about getting you out of pain.

7. Poor nutrition
Your body needs fuel to operate properly. If your neuromuscular system begins to fatigue then it will not support you. Nutrition is an immense field of knowledge and we will tackle many of the important factors in later blogs. Suffice to say, try to have a balanced diet of fresh, organic produce. Every meal should have a good source of protein, fat and carbohydrate and be high in micronutrients. Eat more veges and fruits compared to grains and refined flour. Eat good sources of fats and oils such as olive, coconut, nuts, avocado and keep away from processed foods especially when it comes to meat.

8. Extra weight and obesity
When we carry extra fat tissue it is not typically distributed evenly over the body. Men tend to carry it over the stomach (pendulous abdominis) and women around the hips and backside. The extra weight will change you centre of gravity and thus your posture and will also increase the load on your joints, predisposing you to injury and arthritic change.

9. Hereditary factors and age
There may be a family history of scoliosis, hyperkyphosis or hyperlordosis. If so then it is very important to be aware of posture from an early age and establish routines to counter the genetic predisposition. As we age it becomes more challenging to maintain optimal posture. Again, establishing a sound foundation of posture in the early years makes it so much easier as the years progress.

10. Ankle pronation, high heels and carrying bags on one shoulder
If there are biomechanical problems in the legs then it may affect your whole posture. Ankle pronation is one of the most common problems which affect body posture. If your foot arches are collapsing due to the ankle joint not sitting in neutral position then it is time to see the podiatrist. Shoes also play an important role in posture.

They should support proper ankle and arch position so if they don’t then it’s time for a change. Putting asymmetric loads on your shoulders will distort your posture. A bag that is too heavy or carried on one shoulder will have a detrimental impact over the long term.

 

References:

Glassman S, Bridwell K, Berven S, Horton W, Schwab F: The Impact of Positive Sagittal Balance in Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine. 2005 Sep 15;30(18):2024-9.