When standing, our body should be upright to allow your weight to be distributed through our skeleton. All too often nowadays, people’s posture is bent forward, especially at the head and shoulders due to the proportion of our day we spend sitting.
The average head weighs 12lb, but for every inch the head rests forward of its designed position (roughly level with the shoulder), an extra 10lb is added to the ‘effective’ weight due to the biomechanics and leverage being altered. No wonder we see so many patients with tight muscles in their upper back and neck, often complaining of headaches and fatigue!
A simple way to check your own posture is to stand with your back against a wall. If your posture is optimal (and you are of average build), you should be able to stand with your bottom, shoulders and back of head against the wall comfortably. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and and arms relaxed beside you. Many of you will find that to achieve this you need to push our head backwards towards the wall, and will probably feel your lower back arch away from the wall as you do this.
So what can we all do improve our posture? There is no single answer to this. It will depend on a variety of factors such as fitness, lifestyle (including stress), unresolved injuries, all of which will have a bearing on the mechanics of your body. However, a good starting point is to keep as fit as possible, ensuring core strength and general flexibility is maintained. The human body is designed for movement, and this helps us maintain the natural muscle balance as well as maintaining joint health.
For those of us who sit for long periods, ideally your chair should be raised so your knees are below the level of your hips. This allows the pelvis to tilt forward and facilitate the natural arch in the lower back. This will also bring the head and shoulder back over the body. Tilting the seat forwards, or using a wedge helps encourage better posture also.
For many of us, joints have simply become restricted due to adverse mechanics and alignment (known as ‘subluxations’). Chiropractic offers an excellent means by which we can realign the body and get sticky joints moving more optimally again. With the correct care and rehabilitation advice, improvements to posture can be achieved, and subsequently symptoms such as back and neck pain can be improved.
I will be posting another blog soon with examples of posture correction at Rebalance.