Poor posture has become an epidemic in our modern day world, and it’s much more serious than people imagine.
Posture is one window into the spine, and the spine is what connects the brain to the body. This powerful relationship affects organ and even cellular function. Because of this connection, poor spinal health from poor postural habits leads to a reduction in brain and organ function.
Vertebral subluxations are the misalignments of the spine that cause nerve irritation. While they may manifest as pain, many spinal nerves do not transmit pain or sensation. In these cases, they may go unnoticed by an individual. When there is subluxation, less signals are getting to the brain, meaning there can actually be less perceived pain signals by the individual.
The natural curve in the neck should represent a backwards “C” shape and measure at 40-45 degrees. Many chiropractors and neurosurgeons refer to this curve as the “arc of life” because it is in place to help protect the brain stem, spinal cord, and nerves that travel to every part of the body.
One pattern of subluxation is the forward head posture. This is often created by whiplash trauma or poor posture. For example, an individual who works at a desk leaning forward to see the computer day after day is likely to display such posture and subluxation pattern.
Lack of this curve along with forward head posture can also be caused by birth trauma (especially with forceps or vacuum delivery), sports injuries, car accidents, or falls. In today’s world, where people spend hours each day in front of a computer, TV, and or a cell phone (texting) poor posture can cause the head to shift forward and create a lasting forward head posture.
This is harmful to one’s health and well being because the head can be compared to the weight of a bowling ball, and when shifted forward it pulls and stretches the spinal cord along with it. Rene Cailliet, University of California’s director of physical medicine an rehabilitation notes that “this forward head posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage pulling the entire spine out of alignment and may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity.”
Decreased lung capacity affects the body from effectively oxygenating cells. This could lead to asthmatic conditions, blood vessel problems, nutrient absorption problems, and heart disease. A lowered oxygenated body also depletes endorphin production which can turn the perception of non-painful sensation into pain experiences.
A 2009 study by Mornignstar and Jockers showed that by correcting the forward head posture through chiropractic care lung function was dramatically enhanced. As more oxygen gets in to the body, blood flow into every organ system of the body dramatically improves overall function.
Another pattern is a raised shoulder or asymmetrical shoulder heights. Handbags and gym bags are trending to become larger in size, which may not be a good thing for your health. As you can see in the x-ray above the body compensates for the weight of the shoulder bag. The neck leans away and the shoulder carrying the load rotates backward and is often raised up . These adjustments are done subconsciously to help balance the extra load. However, over time muscles can become strained and sprained and the posture can become long-lasting, even when the bag is released. This leads to chronic neck and back tension, headaches, along with overall decreased function in the body.
If you are experiencing neck or back pain or other symptoms from poor postural habits, chiropractic can help! Dr. Sara Hillesheim, chiropractor at Relief Plus Chiropractic, helps people everyday gain relief and better function. Relief Plus Chiropractic is located at the intersection of Minnetonka Blvd and County Road 101 in Minnetonka MN near Wayzata MN.