I am writing this blog during the last days of September. October will soon be here. Since October is “Good Posture Month” I thought it would be appropriate to address posture. Most people have at least a vague idea of what good posture is. No slouching, hold your head up, shoulders back, spine straight…. well, actually, some people hold their shoulders back too rigidly, and that can cause tension in the body, but other than that, those few guidelines at least get us started on good posture. But there is much more. For instance, when seated, make sure your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle or greater and your feet are flat on the floor. This translates into never tucking your feet under the chair. Sitting leaning over a laptop computer is poor posture, as is craning your neck to read the screen of a desktop. Sitting on a saggy, non-supportive couch is also problematic, as is falling asleep when seated in a chair with no headrest.
I am living proof that the last situation can cause problems; sometimes when I have done this, my head subsequently lolled to the side, I heard a loud “pop” in my neck, and I suffered from neck soreness for days or even weeks afterward. Gentle massage or chiropractic adjusting, along with time, to let the injury heal, were helpful in my case. Most people realize that craning the neck forward or slouching forward over a laptop also can be harmful. What many people do not realize is that tucking the feet under a chair stresses the hips and the entire spine, including the neck. This seated posture results in unnecessary tension in the hips, back and neck and can result in spasm of the small paraspinal muscles, temporary impingement of some spinal nerves, especially when there are degenerative changes in the spine, and also can result in uneven circulation to the hips, back and neck.
When we stand and sit straight, we tend to be more alert, since the nervous and circulatory systems are not impeded by our posture. Our internal organs also function better than they would if we slouch or otherwise exhibit poor posture. Internal organs that are especially affected by poor posture are the brain, thyroid, lungs, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, bladder, stomach, intestines, and the reproductive system. For example, sitting up straight allows our lungs to fill and expel more fully and allows our tissues to receive more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide and other waste products. A singer will have a louder, clearer voice and can even increase note range with improved posture.
Others perceive us as more alert, intelligent, vital, and effectual when we have good posture. At a job interview, all other things being equal, the person with good posture will be hired over the person who slouches. And good posture also signals us to feel better about ourselves, since a more vitally functioning body usually results in a more objective, empowered outlook on things, as well as in more self-confidence. One step toward improved posture is becoming aware of our posture more and more often, and correcting mistakes until improved posture becomes automatic.
This week’s offer: chiropractic, acupuncture, and appropriate exercise can help improve posture, increase energy level, and enhance a sense of well being. Feel free to call me about a free consultation regarding improving your posture and which approaches might help you.