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Most people realize that bad posture is unflattering, making you look older and less attractive. However, did you know that poor posture also is bad for your health? Bad posture is frequently an underlying cause of back problems and back pain. Since bad posture alters the weight distribution of the body, it oftencreates strain in the muscles of the back or invertebral discs, over time leading to back pain and chronic back problems.
The effects of bad posture go further than that, however. One of the most common posture imbalances is forward head posture, which is a precursor of age-related dowager’s hump. Forward head posture often leads to headaches, and if it develops into full-fledged dowager’s hump (hyperkyphosis), it causes numerous other health problems as people get older .
In general, however, bad posture influences the health of our body in numerous ways. According to researchers John Lennon, BM, MM. C. and Norman Shealy: “[. . . posture affects and moderates every physiologic function from breathing to hormonal production. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture. The most significant influences of posture are upon respiration, oxygenation, and sympathetic function. Ultimately, it appears that homeostasis and autonomic regulation are intimately connected with posture. The corollary of these observations is that many symptoms, including pain, may be moderated or eliminated by improved posture.” (See citation below.)
Translation? Posture impacts all bodily functions, principally breathing and therefore whether or not the body’s cells receive proper oxygen supply. Posture also affects the sympathetic function of the body, and thereby its ability to regulate its internal environment in response to outer changes.
Moreover, the spinal cord is the central path through which flow all the nerves of the central nervous system. The central nervous system, of course, is the central command center which coordinates the activity of all parts of the body.
The spinal cord houses the nerves, which transmit messages between the brain and the rest of the body. The central nervous system is responsible for maintaining the homeostasis, or internal balance, of the body. Through the flow of nerve information back and forth, it monitors, detects, interprets, and responds to alterations in the internal and external environment. The nervous system then responds by sending electrochemical impulses through nerves to muscles, glands, and other parts of the body needed to respond to changes in the external environment.
Osteopaths and chiropractors have long emphasized that the body’s structure and its functioning are intimately related: Structure impacts function. Poor posture (structure) may interfere with the flow of information through the spinal nerves to other parts of the body and result in diminished function, which in turn may translate into health issues over the long term.
Here is the bottom line: Chiropractors and osteopaths both hold that poor posture increases the chance of poor health, because problems in the structure of the body, such as poor posture, often result in problems with the body’s function. Bad posture is the most common structural imbalance.
The good news of course is that bad posture is also one of the structural imbalances over which you have the most power. Poor posture can be turned around by taking steps to correct your posture.
Corrective posture exercises, posture support braces, and core strengthening activities are a great place to start-as is simply paying attention to your posture and bearing throughout the day. Remember, bad posture is created moment by moment, predominantly by poor habits and weakened posture support muscles. Good posture is created moment by moment as well-by reversing your moment-to-moment posture habits and strengthening core posture support muscles, you will be able to gradually reshape and improve your posture.
Quote Source: John Lennon, BM, MM, C. Norman Shealy, MD, Roger K. Cady, MD, William Matta, PhD., Richard Cox, PhD, and William F. Simpson, PhD, American Journal of Pain Management, Vol. 4, No. 1, January, 1994