By Ronald G. Manoni
I think it is fair to say that good posture is essential for overall good health and fitness. Many of our most painful muscular, skeletal and nervous system problems develop from poor posture. The primary negative aspect of poor posture is its impact on our nervous system, which controls and regulates most of our bodily system functions.
Correct posture is defined as a state of skeletal and muscular balance, which is properly aligned to strengthen and protect the supporting structures of our body.
Whether a person is walking, running, lying, squatting or stooping, good posture allows the muscles of the body to function with maximum efficiency. Postural dysfunction creates restriction and misalignment of the musculoskeletal structures. These restrictions quickly cause your body to either over or under compensate for stability across muscles, tendons and joints, leading to tears, pulls and spinal misalignment.
The body has three primary regions where poor posture can develop. First is the area of the lower leg, knee, ankle and foot. The second area is the lumbar, pelvis and hips. The final area is your upper back, shoulders and neck.
Each region creates a very specific set of problems caused by postural distortions and can be very problematic, especially if you desire to lead an active lifestyle. If you’re a runner, poor posture with knee and foot mechanics will create a misalignment, leading to overactive pronation or supination. This over activity can lead to iliotibial band syndrome of the knee, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
The second area where poor posture can lead to the most commonly seen problems is the lumbar, pelvis and hip complex. This is an area where sitting and sedentary behavior creates postural distortions. When you sit for long periods and lack proper support you can create anterior pelvic tilt which often hyperextends your low back. This shortens your hip flexor muscles, leading to hip, low back and hamstring strains.
The third area for postural distortions is your upper back and extremities, which can be caused by rounded shoulders, improper lifting and tilting of the neck and head for long periods. Poor upper body posture leads to neck pain, headaches and shoulder flexibility problems. Poor posture over time can lead to rotator cuff tendinitis and inflamed shoulder tendons.
So why focus on good posture? If the body is out of optimal alignment, your muscles eventually adapt by either shortening or lengthening depending on the postural distortion. Each of the three areas mentioned above will affect a different area of your spinal cord and your nervous system. These muscle imbalances and their adverse effect to your nerve tissue can have a number of health consequences.
Chiropractors are experts at analyzing posture and spinal problems. They can assist you with proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles. They can also assist you with choosing proper postures during your activities, helping reduce your risk of injury.
Maintaining good posture will make a big difference to your long-term health.
This article was written by Ronald G. Manoni, DC, CCSP, clinical director at Danbury Chiropractic and Wellness.