The world and society we live in has become overwhelmingly sedentary. We sit for our jobs. We sit while we drive and travel. When we constantly sit, we frequently enter poor habits of poor posture and body positioning. This poor posture weighs on the body and can interfere with good body mechanics resulting in pain and reduced range of motion. This has a daily effect on our lives, but we don’t often pay attention to it. So what is posture, why does it matter, and what can you do to better your health?

What is Posture and Alignment, and Why is it Important?

Posture is defined simply as the position in which one holds their body while sitting or standing. People can form habits with their body, leaning into the natural positions of the body or forming alternate habits, these positions can be good or bad for the body. Having good posture can reduce muscle tension, help with increased energy, and even help boost confidence. Good posture will allow the functions of the body to engage and act without external stress. Having bad posture can wear on the body and contribute to pain.

So what do we mean by good posture? We are referring to the positioning of the musculoskeletal system. Good posture will be a posture that aligns with the natural position of the body and the biomechanics of the skeleton. The spine has four main curves in it: the neck and low back, the cervical and lumbar areas of the spine, have natural curves forward, the mid-back and pelvis, the thoracic and sacral curves of the spine, have natural curves backward. Good posture will maintain these natural curves of the body in what we consider a neutral spine. Good posture will also keep the head upright, the chest straight, the shoulders and hips even, and the body in an overall rested and upright position.

This good posture keeps the ribcage open and even, thus reducing stress on the spine providing the structure for the ribcage. An open and neutral ribcage will reduce stress on the heart, lungs, digestive organs, and other internal systems within.

Good posture will also help keep muscle imbalances low, as the muscles will not be over-strained or over-tightened, but will be able to be in a neutral resting position.



Overall Health Benefits

The health benefits of keeping a good posture are numerous. Good posture has been shown to help with pain relief for neck and lower back pain, as maintaining proper posture keeps the body in a healthy position, reducing strain on the muscles and bones of the spine, which can relieve and prevent issues of joint pain, prevent muscle strain, and reduce stress on the nervous system which is housed in the spine.

Better posture has also been associated with reducing headaches, particularly cervicogenic headaches, by reducing stress and tension in the muscles of the neck, relieving neck pain, and stopping these types of headaches at their root cause.

The healthy alignment of the posture of the thoracic spine and rib cage can also result in higher lung capacity because the lungs are able to work and expand and contract to their full ability. If you’ve ever noticed that you can take a deeper breath when you stand straight, it is because standing upright allows the ribcage to be as wide as possible.

Good posture can also help with increasing energy levels, better form while exercising (thus reducing the possibility of injury), and increased confidence.

The Consequences of Poor Posture

So what does poor posture look like and how can it affect the body? Poor posture is that which runs contrary to the natural alignment of the musculoskeletal system. A forward head posture, also known as excessive curvature of the cervical spine, can place excessive strain on the back muscles and neck muscles providing support, which can lead to pain and joint restrictions in the neck and shoulders.

Often when we sit we end up looking down at phones or computers, hunching our shoulders forward and increasing the curve of our mid-back. This posture imbalance reduces the capacity of the ribcage and alters the physical appearance of the body by causing a “hunchback” look. This position can over time cause shoulder pain, mid-back pain, and stiffness.

All of this poor posture also places great strain on the spinal cord housed within the spine, which places stress and pressure on the nervous system, which can prevent it from functioning at it’s optimal level.



The Importance of Posture and Alignment: How Chiropractic Care Can Help

So now that we know the importance of good posture, how can we improve posture and keep proper alignment of the spine? The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem to begin with. Notice how you hold your body when you sit on the couch, drive your car, sit at your desk, walk, etc. Notice how you are holding your body. Are you pushing your head forward? Are you sitting cross-legged? Are you holding one arm or one hip higher than the other? Are you curving your body forward and looking down?

Once you understand what your body’s current habit is, it becomes easier to work to understand and maintain good posture. Try rearranging your desk to have better ergonomics, helping keep your neck upright, and raising your computer screen so you are looking straight ahead instead of down. Keep your feet flat on the floor, and keep your forearms parallel to the floor.

Often when we have been living in bad posture for so long, we need help correcting the structure first. This is where chiropractic adjustments are invaluable. Spinal adjustments by a licensed chiropractor will find areas where proper spinal alignment has been strained by bad habits and will work to correct the structural imbalances in the range of motion of the joints of the body. Chiropractic care focuses on helping correct the alignment of the spinal bones. This good alignment will also help reduce stress on the nervous system by relieving pressure on the spinal nerves themselves. This improved alignment helps restore good communication throughout the nervous system which can also not just help reduce pain but can reduce stress and help your body be better able to relax, rest, and grow.

Chiropractic adjustment combined with posture alterations in your day-to-day life can greatly help not just improve your posture but help improve the overall health and well-being of your whole body. See if chiropractic care can help you and your posture and schedule an appointment today.