May Is Postural Awareness Month
May is considered to be Postural Awareness Month. The purpose of Postural Awareness Month is to bring our attention to what proper posture is and the effects that proper posture has on our health. Postural awareness is defined as the subjective conscious awareness of body positioning. Having postural awareness means that an individual is constantly conscious and aware of the position of their spine. When someone has postural awareness, they are making sure they keep their spine in proper alignment, not hunching over but rather standing and sitting up straight.
In contrast, people with poor postural alignment do just the opposite. These individuals are not aware of their posture and tend to hunch over. This position rounds the shoulders causing an increase of the mid back curve and the head to drop down and forward. Having poor posture can lead to a number of different things. The main issue that comes with poor posture is poor health outcomes and balance issues. Posture and balance are controlled by the same part in our brains—our cerebellums.
Ideal posture consists of 2 views—what your spine looks like from the front and what it looks like from the side. From the front, our shoulders and hips should be level. There should be no tilt, twists or shifts in the neck, torso or pelvis. From the side, our ears should be in line with our shoulders, hips, and ankles. When a person has this proper alignment, the spine has little to no stress on it. Once this ideal posture is lost, abnormal stresses and strains are put on the spine and nervous system.
Our nervous system controls all the major functions of the body. It does that by sending energy from the brain to the spinal cord and spinal nerves and out to our vital organs and extremities. Information goes back and forth to the brain via the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Our spinal column is there to 1) protect our spinal cord and 2) to keep up upright through our posture. If we start to alter our ideal posture, the stress placed on the nervous system affects that energy flow from the brain to the organs and vice versa. We can alter our posture either through a sudden change from a trauma or we may alter it through poor postural habits that slowly changed it over time. Pain is not always present with abnormal posture. By the time pain begins, the nerves are already inflamed and your body is in a state of crisis. So you can see how your posture is directly related to your health!
There are many ways to develop postural awareness but the following are the main tips and tricks to improving your postural awareness:
Standing up straight and tall: imagine that you have a string attached to the top of your head, pulling your body straight up and tall.
Keeping your shoulders back: imagine that you have a ruler stretched across the back of your shoulders holding them straight and not allowing them to curve forward. Make sure you keep your head in line with your shoulders.
Pulling your stomach in: try to focus on not having your lower back arched too much. You want to keep your stomach and core tight.
Putting your weight mostly on the balls of your feet: walking on your heels can lead to excessive weight on your back. Shifting weight onto the soles of your feet can help to relieve that pressure.
Keeping your head level: try to keep your head up straight and avoid pulling it too far forward.
Letting your arms hang down naturally at your sides: let your arms hang down natural at your sides to help relieve possible tension in your shoulders.
Keeping your feet about shoulder width apart: keeping your feet any wider can lead to hip discomfort.
By practicing these exercises you will draw awareness to your posture and develop more efficient postural habits. When an individual neglects their posture a number of issues can occur, poor health being number one. However, there are other symptoms that come with poor posture:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder tension
- Upper back pain
- Back pain
- Body aches and pains
- Muscle fatigue and weakness
- Knee discomfort
- Balance issues
- Increased fall risk
Unfortunately even if you do not experience any of these symptoms, you may still have poor posture. Remember we said earlier that pain isn’t always present. A good way to test to see if your posture is correct is by standing with your back up against the wall and having someone measure the distance between your neck and the wall. You can also do this for your lower back. Stand as natural as possible to avoid a false measurement. These measurements should be less than 2 inches. If they are more than that, then it is a possible sign that you have poor posture.
This method however is not the best way to determine if you have poor posture. Visiting your chiropractor may be the best gauge to see how well your posture actually is. More specifically, visiting a CBP chiropractor (Clinical Biomechanics of Posture) is preferred for someone suffering with poor posture and health. CBP doctors not only help to relieve back pain, but focus more on long term relief and wellness. The goal of these doctors is to address the patient’s spinal and health issues and then work to reach an ideal postural alignment for that patient.
If you have been to our office you may have noticed the selection of rehab tables and mirror image traction devices in the office. Along with home care, these tables and devices are what is used to make long term changes to the spine. Each treatment plan is specific to the patient. CBP doctors may be your best help at restoring your posture back into an ideal position.
Since this month is dedicated to postural awareness, take the time to assess your posture. Then take a trip to your local CBP doctor to see how aligned your spine is and if any possible corrections can be made. Visit www.idealspine.com to see who is in your area. Look for a CBP doctor who is certified in the technique.
Creating your journey to postural alignment and awareness will have more affects than you know, not just on pain relief. Realigning the spine may lead to increase immunity, decrease blood pressure, reduce inflammation, reduced stress and more. Schedule an appointment with your CBP chiropractor this month to assess your posture—you may be surprised at what changes can be made and what those changes will do to your health and body.