Posture is probably one of the most important things that I see in every person I come into contact with.
I check posture in every single exam and observe it before my patients get onto my table each visit.
Posture is an outward indicator of stresses within the body. It shows us where there are imbalances and chronic issues. It can predict future injuries.
- Blood Flow
- Nerve Flow
- Joint Function
- Muscle Tension
- Hormonal Balance in the Brain
- Perceptions of Others
- Perceptions of OURSELVES
- Check out this TED Talk Blog about Super Hero Posture!
- This list could go on forever!…
Posture really is that important.
So what is good posture anyway?
The graphics above are mainly focused on the low back, pelvis, and lower body. However, we can see how a gravity line should be able to be drawn straight down our bodies from the side to demonstrate proper posture.
If I held a piece of string with a weight on it at the height of your ear, it should fall through the shoulder, through the hip, just behind the knee and through your ankle to the ground.
When I think about what this feels like, imagine that someone has tied a string to the crown of your head and is gently tugging upward. Your chin will tuck slightly, your spine will lengthen, shoulders are able to relax, and tailbone tucks slightly. (This is seen in the far left photo, above. The photos to the right demonstrate increased forward head posture with hands rolled forward and low back rounded.
From the front, posture is focused on horizontal lines as well. I ask myself, “Is everything level and equal from side to side?”
- Are the eyes level or is the head tilted?
- Can I see an equal amount of ear on each side?
- Are the shoulders level?
- Are the hips and pelvis level?
- Is the spine in midline?
- Are the hands in front or at the sides?
- Are the shoulders rounded?
Both of the photos above demonstrate asymmetries, but note how the left side photo demonstrates rounding of the shoulders, head tilt, right sided torso shift, etc. The photo on the right has far better posture.
How can I fix my Poor Posture?
Posture can be remedied in a number of ways.
What activities are causing the poor posture and can they be changed?
Often, poor posture is a response to a chronic position that we work in, relax in, or a repetitive activity. When this is the case, I look for ways to modify the activity or improve work ergonomics.
Is there a skeletal component?
Sometimes, we have held a posture for so long that we have, literally, changed the shape of our spine in response. In these cases, it usually takes chiropractic care and rehabilitative exercises to begin to make changes in the spine- resulting in changes in posture. As a chiropractor, there are many ways that I work with the spine and joints to help stabilize and improve posture.
All of my patients leave the office with some type of homework. We are creatures of habit and our brains rewire themselves to perpetuate these habits. This means that it takes consistent movement correction to repattern the brain. Remember the phrase: Neurons that Fire Together, Wire Together. This means that we have to fire correct patterns of movement over and over again to train our brains and bodies to correct our posture.
It is also immensely important to be aware of our posture in the moment. I set a timer when I am doing computer work (blogs like this, patient notes, etc). When the timer goes off, I get up and do some exercises to improve my posture. It is inevitable that when we sit at a computer, our head drifts forward, our shoulders round, and we generally sit poorly. The same stands true for watching TV, standing in lines, looking at your phone or tablet!
Overall, posture is one of the best things that we can pay attention to to know how our biomechanics (the way we move in daily life) are programmed. Take a look of the last few photos someone has taken of you (selfies don’t really work) and see if you notice any of the things I have mentioned above.
Take control of your posture and start changing your health!
As always, contact me if you would like help with meeting your health goals!
-Dr. Sharonrose Samelak, Chiropractic Physician