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Hello, everyone. Welcome back to our TexStar Chiropractic health blog which we manage with the intent of supporting healthy and pain free living. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of good posture. Before getting started, please know that if you are suffering any form of acute or systemic pain, strongly consider TexStar Chiropractic with locations in southwest Austin, Buda, Bee Cave, and Dripping Springs. Now, about the importance of good posture.
At some point in your life, you have heard someone tell you to sit up straight. Teachers and parents are the champions of this, but you may have heard it from your doctor too, if they are keeping up with research.
There are mountains of evidence out there showing that posture is directly linked to back pain, but did you know that it also affects lots of other body systems and how they function? There is a Japanese study showing certain types of poor posture affect a person’s ability to function independently later in life(1). There is a lot of evidence that shows when the curve in our upper back becomes exaggerated, we lose lung function(2). A recent study even showed a link between upright posture and brain function in older age.(3)
While all these studies are interesting, the big takeaway is that posture really matters. The good news is, for the most part, posture is something we can control with little awareness and exercise. The bad news is that with the current trends in childhood obesity and increased mobile device use, we are seeing steady evidence that as a society, our posture is getting worse.
There are things you can do besides regular chiropractic adjustments to keep your spine in better health. Here are our 4 Tips to a Healthier Spine:
1— Learn what good posture looks like:
If you imagine a sideview photo of yourself, your ear should line up right over your shoulder, your shoulder over your hip, your hip over your knee, and your knee over your ankle.
In a seated position your feet should be resting flat on the floor, with knees at roughly the same height as your hips. Try to sit up straight with your back against the back of the chair. A lumbar support or small pillow can be used if your low back does not touch the chair.
2— Identify your posture issues:
Get someone to take a photo of you from the side in what feels like your normal seated and standing positions. Compare that image to what we described above. Most chiropractic doctors and physical medicine doctors should be able to offer you a posture analysis as well that can help you identify problem areas. We use an iPad-based system in our office called PostureScreen that can identify your deviations from normal and then monitor your progress as you improve.
3— Recheck Often:
There are very high-tech solutions for this, some you can wear that will vibrate if they sense your posture shifting, but something as simple as a post-it note on your computer screen or a reminder on your phone at different times of day can help you to check-in with yourself and stay aware of your posture, which is enough to make a difference.
Then, set a date 4-6 weeks later to take another posture photo and see how you have improved.
4— Build up postural muscles:
Depending on your specific postural issues you may need to focus on different areas. A good trainer, physical therapist, or Doctor of Chiropractic should be able to develop a plan for you, catered to your individual needs but here are a few examples:
- If your head seems to to stick out in front of your shoulders (a condition called forward head posture or “tech-neck”) ,we may work on building up your neck extensor muscles and your upper back.
- If your shoulders roll forward and the curve in your upper back seems exaggerated, then we may work your upper back muscles and the muscles under your shoulder blades (called rhomboids) to strengthen that area.
- There are two main types of low back posture distortions: sway back and flat back. These are usually linked to an imbalance of the abdominal, low back, quadricep, and hamstring muscle groups.
Everyone has specific challenges in these areas but with a little effort you can start to improve. Good posture has been shown to reduce spine pain, headaches, anxiety, and stress. It also improves athletic performance, balance, coordination, and breathing. There are many resources online to get you started and if you need more help follow up with the health or fitness provider of your choice.
A side-note for parents:
We form our movement patterns and muscle memory habits early in life, which both strongly affect posture. It is much easier to help our kids establish good habits while they are young than it is for them to try and learn new ones later in life. The current generation of kids has a real challenge ahead of them to try stay fit, active, and healthy while dealing with things we didn’t have like tech devices, videogames, and more highly processed food options. So even though they may roll their eyes at you and you may think they aren’t listening, let them know how important their health is, including their posture.
Questions? We’re here to help and invite you to contact any of our four locations to discuss the subject of posture or any pain management interest. Contact TexStar Chiropractic Austin, TexStar Chiropractic Bee Cave, TexStar Chiropractic Buda, or TexStar Chiropractic Dripping Springs anytime!