“Sit up Straight - Stop Slouching!”
Just about everyone has either had a parent say this to them or, as parents, have said it to their children. You can picture the scenario - nagging parent and uncooperative child!
While not many people like to nag, and even fewer people like being nagged, it is a simple fact that posture is important.
Postural testing is a key feature of any chiropractic examination. Postural habits don’t happen all of a sudden - they develop over many years. Once developed, they can lead to many health problems including respiratory ailments and chronic spinal problems.
In addition to health benefits, good posture also has emotional benefits. Picture a healthy, self-confident and happy person, and imagine what that person’s posture might look like. Would they have a slouching head and dropping shoulders? Of course not! When people are happy they tend to hold themselves in a better posture. Depressed people more commonly have a “depressed posture”. Interestingly this works both ways. Just as feeling down tends to bring us down physically, simply changing your posture can have a positive effect on your emotional outlook. Just try to stay upset while assuming a relaxed and upright posture. It’s not easy! Good posture is aesthetically more pleasing than being stooped. Being upright gives an impression of being open and confident. People are more likely to interact with you in a positive way when you hold yourself tall.
Causes of poor posture include congenital factors. In the condition hemi-vertebra a person is born with only half a vertebra (spinal bone) at one or more levels. If the missing or underdeveloped half is on the right side, it will cause a scoliosis (sideways curvature) of the spine to the right. Other causes of poor posture include trauma, lack of exercise, surgery, chronic illness, osteoporosis and depression. However the most common cause of poor posture is not paying attention to how we sit, stand, or sleep, all causes that are usually preventable. Having the right ergonomic set-up at your desk, ensuring school backpacks are fitted and worn correctly, having properly fitting shoes and sleeping on a mattress that supports your spine, are all potential factors in helping maintain good posture. Having regular chiropractic check-ups to ensure spinal misalignments (subluxations) are not developing and contributing to postural faults makes good sense.
When standing, perfect posture means the middle of the ear, the tip of the shoulder, the outside of the hip and outside of the ankle form a vertical line. To have great posture, think of your spine as being long and relaxed. Imagine gravity works in the opposite direction through your spine, creating a gentle stretch. Most importantly great posture means movement. Hours behind a computer or driving a car do nothing to help posture.
Developing good posture in children
Instead of nagging them, encourage children to maintain good posture by demonstrating its effects:
Try doing these activities with poor neck posture (chin poking forwards) and then with good neck posture (chin drawn back with ear in line with shoulders):
● Raising arms above you head
● Turing head fully right to left
● Taking a deep breath in
● Pushing the arm away from the body against resistance
You will find your range of movement, breathing and strength all improve with better posture.
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