This article will hopefully give the mothers out there some ammo to back up your demands for children to “sit up straight!” It may also give everyone some tips on a small effort investment that will change your life 10 years down the road.
A study from the 2006 Harvard Medical School Journal attributes head posture as the greatest predictor of poor health ( high risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung disorders) in the 65 – 75-year-old population. Furthermore, it remains the most neglected area of health in the 25 – 35 age range. Poor posture increases the workload on the muscles around our spine, increases wear and tear on our joints and spinal discs lower our breathing capacity, and the ability to oxygenate our bodies, and worst of all, it is a tough or even impossible habit to break.
For every inch our ears sit in front of our shoulders while looking at the computer screen, playing a video game, studying a textbook, etc. the weight of our head seems many times heavier to our muscles and spine. This causes most of the upper back pain that plagues our society. After assuming this position for long hours every day, our bodies get accustomed to this position. This is similar to the inability to straighten an elbow that’s been cast at 90 degrees for 6 weeks.
Aside from the consequences of the neck and upper back pain, let’s demonstrate how this posture affects our shoulder and rotator cuff. While sitting in a chair, slouch your low back, reach your chin forward and then try to touch your ear with your elbow. Then sit up very straight and try again. The difference is amazing. So now we’ve got upper back pain, a rotator cuff tear, and we’re stuck in this poor postural position, all because we chose to overlook the importance of forming a good postural habit.
Good or bad posture is simply a choice. Neither way is more of a burden if we start now and not after the negative effects settle in. The best way to promote good posture is to keep your eyes on the horizon and then draw your head straight back. Hold this for two seconds then slowly relax. When you feel like you’re not working, stop. That’s “your” good posture. If your ears end up far in front of your shoulders, you need to have yourself treated to reverse the restriction. If you realize how easy this change is, remind yourself every hour for a week to repeat the procedure and form a great habit.
Dr. Adam Hughes is a Chiropractor with The Joint Chiropractic in Ladue. He will be offering adjustments at PAC twice a month. The Joint also offers discounts to PAC clients so give them a call at 314-862-6000 to learn more!