Stopping the Slouch
If you read the research on what slouching does to your Health, you'll be astonished! Where most people view posture as an aesthetic issue, the facts are that slouching affects your health in critical, negative ways. There's nothing positive at all about slouching, what we call “hyper-thoracic kyphosis” or “Forward Head Posture” in the chiropractic world.
Headaches, neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain, herniated discs, breathing issues and accelerated arthritis are just some of the negative conditions associated with kyphosis or FHP, just to name a few. Slouching can be perceived as a benign, normal way of carrying yourself or standing, the fact is—it is hurting you and deteriorating your health! The longer your body has been out of balance, the more vigilant you have to be in finding a solution to help you find impactful improvement.
We now have technological versions of our mothers or grandparents telling us to "stand up straight!" or "don't slouch!". From a device that buzzes you when you are in the 'slouch’ to a contraption that you can where across your upper back to make slouching more difficult; you can even find an app attached to some devices that counts the number of times you stood in poor posture and reports the data back to you! While all noble in their intent, the bottom line is this: these devices do not address the heart of the problem, which is a weak core. A weakened core will result in inappropriate stress on key muscle groups and joints involved in holding you upright and in strong posture. If you have a strong core and strong posture, you should be feeling worse when in poor posture so you naturally feel the need to straighten up. If your core is strong, slouching will feel uncomfortable for you and it will be noticeable without a buzzer.
Don't get me wrong--I love the idea of the reminder, but we need to take action on the health matter.
Think of it in other terms. If you drive a car, at some point in time you’ve had a warning light go on. Maybe you need an oil change or your tire pressure is low and needs attention. The warning lights are great. In the moment, you may think, “I’ve gotta make an appointment to take care of that soon”. If you never take action, eventually your car’s performance will begin to decline, possibly even stop working altogether. The warnings are only that – a warning. Without taking appropriate action, they will do nothing to prevent a breakdown. Even better would be taking proactive measures so those warning lights won’t ever come on in the first place.
As a Chiropractor, most of my days are spent bent over my patients performing adjustments on the chiropractic table. The irony of my profession is that while we work to strengthen postural alignment, the nature of our work places us in less than ideal posture. In addition, like many of you, I spend time at my computer and on my smartphone, also minefields for poor posture. Our professions or daily life challenges our posture and core daily (mopping, carrying an infant or toddler around, manual labor, the list is endless).
Did You Know Your Bottom Is A Part of Your Middle?
It’s true! I am not a fan of getting too clinical in my blogs, but for a moment let’s talk about anatomy. If we are to make progress, we need to move away from the idea that “core” muscles are simply the “abdominals” or “six pack”. This is inaccurate and leads people to believe that crunches are all that is needed to build strength. When I refer to your core, I am talking about all 9 major muscles involved in the thoracic area of the body. Your pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, longissimus thoracis, diaphragm, and rectus abdominus all make up your “core”. Add “minor” muscles like latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius to that list and you have 10 muscles that need to be flexible and strong to make your posture and core optimal! That means performing moves like lunges and squats are just as important as crunches to create that strong and flexible middle for which we all should strive!
Are Your Muscles Sore?
This is a common sign of a weak core. Believe it or not, slouching may seem like a more relaxed way to stand, but it is actually much more taxing on your muscles. The goal of your core muscles is to stabilize and actually protect your spine. When your core muscles are out of shape, they lose their ability to perform their job function and become stressed and fatigued, even developing a sense of tightness or “knots” in the muscles.
How Is Your Circulation?
Weak muscles can lead to detrimental postural changes to your spinal alignment. This, in turn, can cause issues with constriction of blood vessels around the spine, ultimately impacting blood flow to your muscles leading to potential problems with blood and oxygen supply.
Pains, Pins, and Needles
Most people associate my profession with pain related to pinched nerves, or “subluxations” of the spine. As your muscles weaken, your spine begins to change shape as the proper curvature of the spine is negatively impacted. This can lead to pain virtually anywhere in the body, the feeling of pins & needles or numbness of extremities, headaches, weakness, and much more. The entire practice of chiropractic is based upon the belief that keeping nerve pathways unimpeded by the spine leads to optimal health, with subluxations leading to deterioration of the organs, processes, and symptoms served by those nerves. A strong core and strong posture helps keep your spine in the right position and also greatly reinforces chiropractic adjustments, allowing you to “hold” your adjustments for longer periods of time.
So what is the solution? How can we all create a practice that leads to a strong core and, ultimately, strong posture? By creating a regular fitness routine that involves focusing on strengthening your core. ALL of it! This was a great part of my motivation in creating the PostureFit Bar. It’s simple and easy to incorporate into your daily lifestyle, it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it is able to be used by virtually everyone. Anyone can find five to eight minutes a day to do the minimum PostureFit workout routine needed to take that first step. Once you have that small foundation, building a greater one is easy.
Step into your Power Posture. You will see the changes, feel the changes and experience the health benefits of finally knowing inherently where your body belongs in it's center of gravity, without needing to attach a device to your body or clothing. When you feel that change, it is nothing short of enlightening.