How to Improve your Posture
Here at Atlantic Wellness and Spine Center we focus on helping individuals achieve the highest level of wellness possible by educating patients about chiropractic, posture and lifestyle habits.
We know from research and science what the spine should ideally look like. From the front, our spine should be straight with our shoulders and hips even. From the side, we have three natural curves, one in the neck, one in the mid back and one in the low back. These natural curves act as a “shock absorber” against gravity and, when present, minimizes stress to the nervous system. Without stress on our nervous system, our body and organs are able to function at optimal performance.
Current research has shown how abnormal posture negatively affects our organs and overall health. Picture an elderly person with osteoporosis and an exaggerated curve in his/her mid back. This hunched over person not only has a higher chance of falling, but also heart, lung and digestive problems may occur over time. In addition, this person has a higher mortality rate than someone who is more upright. Or imagine a teenage girl with scoliosis. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature when looking at the spine from the front or back. Depending on the severity of the scoliosis, she may also experience heart and lung problems—plus she may have some self-esteem or body image issues. One research article mentioned how abnormal body image perception increases a person’s chance of harming themselves. So you can see how posture is directly related not just to a person’s physical health, but mental health as well.
Due to the importance that good posture plays in your health, this week’s blog we are going to discuss how to improve and maintain your posture:
#1. Consider spinal corrective care
Spinal corrective care is an option that an individual can choose here at Atlantic Wellness and Spine Center. Corrective care helps remodel the spine into its correct form. Patients start with relief care so they can feel better quickly. Once they do, we transition them to corrective care to help them have long term relief and a healthier lifestyle. Many individuals have spinal misalignments that can lead to head aches, back pains, and more. By choosing spinal corrective care you can actually move your spine back into the position it wants to be in. Think of spinal corrective care as braces for your teeth but instead for your spine.
#2. Get checked to see if you are a candidate for a Denneroll
If you have participated in corrective care before, your chiropractor may have prescribed you with something called a denneroll. A denneroll is a patented foam roll that can be used to remodel a person spine at home. There are different sizes and one for each region of the spine. It should only be prescribed after a complete evaluation is performed to rule out any contraindications. Usually spinal corrective care is partnered with this at home orthotic. When these two treatments are used, the results can be dramatic. They also have a Denneroll pillow which is not only soft but supports the neck’s normal curve without pushing your head forward.
#3. Be mindful of your posture at all times
You should always be aware of your body. Pay attention to what signals you get from it. Be mindful of how you are sitting or laying down. Be sure that you are not placed in a poor posture position for too long. It only takes 5 minutes or so before the spine starts to hold whatever position it is in. That being said, if you have poor posture on your couch for a two hour long movie, your spinal ligaments and spine will slowly deform into that posture. The best advice that can be given is to listen to your body and be aware of its movements. Notice what feels natural and what doesn’t. Your body will tell you.
#4. Do not stare down at your phone or a book
We live in a world full of technology. We are constantly on our phones or a computer and while we are on these advancements, we are typically straining our neck and upper back by looking down. Like I said earlier, it only takes the spinal ligaments 5 minutes to recognize a change and begin to adapt to it. So next time you are staring at your phone or reading a book, make it a priority to hold the phone or book up in line with your sight. Use a bookstand when reading. Or try laying on your stomach and prop the book or phone on a pillow so you have to look up. This way you avoid looking down.
#5. Take steps to avoid student neck
Students spend all day in front of textbooks or on computers. Most of the time is spent taking notes and reading. However, much like when texting; the students are looking down and developing something we call “student neck”. This is due to the fact that since students are staring down at their desk all day long their neck can become strained and actually in some cases cause spinal misalignment. To avoid student neck you can invest in a laptop stand that will allow a students computer to remain at eye level or you can be sure to give yourself some breaks in between long study sessions.
#6. Be mindful of your posture when in the car
Some people spend all day behind the wheel, which can lead to intense back pain. Take this as an opportunity to fix your sitting posture while driving. In order to do that, you want to sit all the way back in your seat with your shoulder blades touching the back of the seat, and your head up against the head rest. This position is the ideal car posture that you want to have. Once you have the posture situated, you want to set your mirrors to that position that you are in. So every time you get into your car you want to be sure to adjust your body to your mirrors, not the other way around.
#7. Do not sit for long periods of time
“Sitting is the new smoking”. You may have heard this quote before and in this case it is extremely true. The act of sitting for long periods of time actually does a drastic number on your health. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of sitting can actually lead to an increased chance of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more. Not to mention that excessive sitting causes intense stress on your spine. Take note, have you ever sat for so long that your lower back began to ache, or that you had sharp pain between your shoulder blades, or maybe even your neck became stiff. This is all common to a person who sits for long periods of time. Try to stand up 1-2 times an hour even if it is only for a few minutes. If watching TV, stand up during commercials.
#8. Follow up with your chiropractor when needed
Listening to your body is key. You must be able to tell when your body is in need of a little TLC. If you ignore your body’s calls for help, you may actually be causing yourself more pain and dysfunction than you already have.