Conveniently located on 58th Street in Manhattan, New York City
POSTURE - Why is it important?
“Sit up straight!” We’ve all heard it at some point in our lives. Teachers and parents are the champions of this, but you may have heard it from your doctor too, if they are keeping up with research.
There are mountains of evidence showing that posture is directly related to back pain, but did you know that it also affects the function of many other systems within the body? A study in Japan showed that certain types of poor posture can affect a person’s ability to function independently later in life. Another study showed when the curve in our upper back becomes exaggerated, we lose proper lung function. Recent evidence even showed a link between upright posture and brain function in older age.
All of these studies point to one big thing: Posture Matters - YOUR WHOLE LIFE! The good news is, for the most part, posture is something we can control and improve with a little bit of awareness and exercise. The bad news is with current trends of increased mobile device use and childhood obesity, we are also seeing steady evidence that, as a society, our posture is getting worse.
Regular chiropractic care can keep your spine in better health and make it easier to maintain control over your posture. Apart from adjustments, there are steps you can do on your own to help.
Here are our 4 Tips to a Healthier Spine:
1— Learn what good posture looks like:
Imagine viewing yourself from a side view. When posture is correct, your ear should line up right over your shoulder, your shoulder over your hip, your hip over your knee, and your knee over your ankle.
In a seated position your feet should be resting flat on the floor, with knees at roughly the same height as your hips. Try to sit up straight with your back against the back of the chair. Keep in mind a support or small pillow can be helpful if your low back does not touch the chair.
2— Identify your posture issues:
Now that you know what correct posture looks like, have someone take a photo of you from the side in what feels like your normal seated and standing positions. Compare that image to what we described above.
Using an iPad-based system called PostureScreen, this process of posture analysis is something we perform in our office. It allows us to identify any deviations you may have from normal and then monitor your progress as your posture improves with treatment.
3— Recheck Often:
There are several high-tech solutions that can help with this, such as devices you can wear that vibrate if your posture shifts, but something as simple as a sticky note on your computer screen or a reminder on your phone at different times of day can help you to check-in with yourself and stay aware of your posture, which is enough to make a difference.
Now that you are monitoring your posture on a daily basis, set a reminder to take a new side view photo in 4-6 weeks to check your overall progress.
4— Build up postural muscles:
Depending on your specific postural issues, you may need to focus on different areas. An experienced Doctor of Chiropractic, physical therapist or trainer can develop an individualized plan for you, but below are a few common examples of poor posture and how they can be addressed:
- If your head seems to stick out in front of your shoulders (a condition called forward head posture or “tech-neck”) , we may work on building up your neck extensor muscles and your upper back
- If your shoulders roll forward and the curve in your upper back seems exaggerated, then we may work your upper back muscles and the muscles under your shoulder blades (called rhomboids) to strengthen that area
- The two main types of low back posture distortions are called sway back and flat back. These are usually linked to an imbalance of the abdominal, low back, quadricep, and hamstring muscle groups, so care may be targeted to several if not all of these muscles to help
Posture issues can present unique challenges to each of us, but with a little effort and the proper awareness, you can start to improve. Maintaining good posture has been shown to reduce spinal pain, headaches, stress and anxiety. It can also improve balance, coordination, breathing and athletic performance. Use the tips above to get started on your own, and follow up with your health professional for additional help.
A side-note for parents:
When we say posture is important for your whole life, we mean it. Movement patterns and muscle memory habits that strongly affect posture are formed early in life. Therefore, it is much easier to help our kids establish good habits while they are young than it is for them to learn new ones when they are older. Children now have some real challenges ahead of them in order to stay fit, active and healthy as they have more exposure to tech devices, computer use and highly processed food options than in previous generations. So even though they may roll their eyes or pretend they aren’t listening, keep letting them know how important their health is, including their posture!
At West Side Comprehensive Chiropractic, we start by working with each patient to identify any irregularities that may be causing pain in their body. Then we develop a blueprint to correct them. Chiropractic treatment combined with a personalized plan of exercises can increase the effectiveness of your overall care and spinal correction program. In addition to skeletal misalignment, you may also be experiencing pain from improper use of muscular and connective tissues. Increased stress on these tissues can cause injury over time and lead to back pain, neck pain, headaches and many other painful issues. In each case, a targeted plan including corrective exercises and stretches from our experienced chiropractor will help you feel good while also helping your body achieve better balance and overall health.
Spinal & Postural Screenings
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and your spinal health is no exception. Posture and spinal screenings by a trained and experienced chiropractor can reveal important information about your health and unlock the door to improved well-being. In order to help our community, we provide screenings at community events, health fairs and places of employment. Contact us today at (212) 765-6470 to arrange a screening at your event or workplace.
If you believe you could benefit from high-quality care, consider getting treatment from the staff at West Side Comprehensive Chiropractic. Our dedicated staff will be pleased to answer your questions today. We can also help you schedule a time to visit our New York office.