What is posture?
Posture refers to the alignment of the body while we are doing our daily activities such as standing, sitting, lying down or performing everyday activities such as bending, lifting and twisting. Our posture provides a foundation for the movements our body makes and helps to redistribute the forces applied on our body through motion. Our posture is supported by our spine, which should be properly aligned. Ideal posture if we view from the back, our spine should be straight, with each vertebra stacked neatly upon one another. Similarly, our ears, shoulders and hips should be level between the left and right. When viewed from the side, our spine should have three natural curves – a lordosis (forward curve) in the neck, a kyphosis (backward curve) in the upper back, and another lordosis in the lower back. With everything aligned, our ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankle should all connect vertically in a straight line while standing upright. When our posture is correct, it keeps the body’s centre of gravity positioned directly over our base of support, allowing for proper stability and redistribution of load. The position of the spine is also maintained by our muscles, specifically the core stabilising muscles. Four different muscles make up this group – 1) Multifidus, 2) Diaphragm, 3) Transversus Abdominus and 4) Pelvic Diaphragm. With all four muscles active, it creates a strong core that helps stabilise the spine to maintain a proper posture while we perform our activities. Not only does a strong core help to create good posture, it gives our body the strength to adapt to the stress place upon it. Stress can simply come from carrying a backpack, exercising or gravity; something which we are fighting against everyday. Most of us are born with a perfectly aligned spine. As babies, our spine is straight with only one large C-shaped curve when viewed from the side. Naturally when we learn to crawl, and gradually begin to stand and walk, our core muscles get stronger and the three natural curves develop. However, as we get older, we accumulate bad habits over time or encounter falls and accidents that would compromise the spinal alignment; eventually resulting in poor posture. For example, all of us are guilty of looking down at our phones, especially when we’re in the trains and buses. For those who use the computer for leisure or work, we often are hunched over the desk and straining our head forwards. Many of us also spend a significant amount of time sitting than we do standing; and we do not sit properly either, often sitting in awkward positions (crossed leg, slouching on the couch etc.). These bad habits, when done consistently over a prolonged period, places additional strain on our muscles. Our body would try to compensate for the added strain and ultimately settle into a poor posture as the new “normal"
Why is good posture important?
A good posture is vital for the optimal functioning of our body. Firstly, having a poor posture can lead to misalignments in our spine or as many chiropractors would describe it as subluxations. As a result, certain muscles would have to work harder to stabilise the spine to allow us to perform our everyday movements. Over time, excessive strain will be placed on these muscles, ultimately leading to muscle tightness or muscle strain. In the long term, poor posture will develop into muscular asymmetry and put our body at greater risk of abnormal degeneration of joints, muscles and ligaments; predisposing the body to chronic conditions such as slipped discs, Frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, trigger fingers, and many other neuromusculoskeletal condition and symptoms. Secondly, poor posture can also have other negative impacts beyond our muscles and ligaments. More often than not, we round our shoulders and slouch forwards. This reduces the ability for our ribcage to expand properly while breathing, significantly limiting the lung’s capability to function optimally.4 Our body’s oxygen demands are not met, causing us to feel fatigue or sleepy easily. The lack of oxygen can also have a detrimental effect on our brain function, leading to poor concentration and bad moods. Lastly, poor posture may cause a decrease in organ function. A poor posture can over time cause degeneration in the spine and cause a bulging intervertebral disc to compress on our nerves or spinal cord. This compression impedes the messages sent by the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa. The breakdown of communication can cause dysfunction in our organs that lead to poor health. It also causes muscle stiffness that we are all too familiar with. Simply put, bad posture equals may to lead bad health over time.
How do I achieve good posture?
To achieve good posture, we have to work towards changing old habits, and learning new and better ones; like sitting upright whilst activating our core muscles without arching our lower back and using mobile devices eye level with our heads in neutral position. However, with the spine already being misaligned, developing good habits is only half the job done. This is where chiropractic treatment comes in. Chiropractors are spine specialist, and through regular chiropractic adjustments, your spine will have its natural functions and alignment. At the same time, your chiropractor can recommend specific strengthening exercises to address the weaknesses or imbalances in your core stabilising muscles. When the spine is back in neutral alignment and the core stabilising muscles are strong, your body will be well equipped to handle the stresses of daily activities. From there, developing good habits will only reinforce your body’s strength to maintain a good posture.
At All Well Scoliosis Centre, we do not simply provide regular chiropractic adjustments or recommend stretching and strengthening exercises. On top of those, we also have specific balancing activities to help train and recalibrate your brain into understanding that the corrected posture we have set you up in should be your body’s normal function and posture. In other words, we re-train your brain to learn what a correct posture should be. The adjustments help put your spine back in natural function and alignment; but importantly, we give you the tools to help you maintain that alignment, such that you can subconsciously maintain a good posture and soon, the stiffness and aches that plague you would soon be a thing of the past.