Thursday, May 16, 2019

May is Posture Awareness Month!

Better Posture for Better Health

By: Dr. Jack Martin, DC, CCSP

What is posture? 

Quite simply, Posture is the way a person holds themselves while sitting or standing. Many of us have poor posture, or a difficult time maintaining good posture. With poor posture, our head is held too far forward, while our upper back and shoulders are rounded. Over time this can lead to conditions like headaches, back, and neck pain. Frequent headaches or backaches are common side effects. Poor posture is even associated with breathing conditions like Asthma due to the limited mobility of the ribs and spine!

Try this simple exercise!
Take a deep breath in. Round the shoulders forward (like a "slouch"), and jut out your head. While doing this, breathe slowly out through the mouth. Now repeat, but this time sit up straight, pull the shoulders back, tuck the chin, and press the chest forward while taking the deepest breath possible through the nose. See how you can instantly breathe better when sitting up straighter! If we want to look, live, and feel our best we need good posture! We can start improving this by working on proper sitting, standing, and sleeping positions. Correcting these will start you down the path to better health.

Ideal standing posture

When looking at a person from the side, we should see the head over their shoulders. A 'plumb line' should run from the ear through the shoulder, hip, and outside ankle bone. When looking straight at someone, the spine should be in a straight line and the shoulders and hips should be level. If one hip is lower, this can lead to structural imbalances along the spine.

Every inch forward the head moves results in about 10 lbs of added weight on the neck! As the head moves forward, it pulls and strains the neck muscles. 

Ideal sitting posture

When we sit, we should be all the way back in the chair, utilizing its lumbar (low back) support. It is important to use a chair that has a lumbar support feature, especially at work. The seat cushion should be accommodating for our thigh length. If it is not, you should use a low back support cushion to move you forward so the knees can easily bend at the front of the chair. The chair height is also important. If we are seated too high or low, pain can result. Ideally we want our thigh and leg at just above a 90 degree angle when seated. Armrests should be set at a height where the forearms can gently rest. This will keep the shoulders relaxed and help prevent neck pain. If sitting at a computer, the monitor should be about an arms length away near eye level.

Ideal Sleep position

Ideally, we should sleep on our back with the neck supported by a pillow and the head almost resting on the mattress. A support cushion placed under the knees will take pressure off the low back. When side sleeping, Putting a pillow between the knees will take pressure off the hips. This coupled with a pillow to support the head will keep the hips and spine in an aligned position. Stomach sleeping is not recommended, and over time it can lead to neck and back discomfort.

With the above information, we can move towards better posture & better health! If you find that trying to make these corrections is difficult and maybe even uncomfortable, don’t worry, that is to be expected! Remember, we are making changes to years of bad habits that resulted in spinal misalignment, and weak or tight muscles.

Check out our videos on Facebook for exercises for proper posture! If you're still having trouble, call us for a spinal assessment or personal training session!
Stop if any of the exercises/stretches cause pain, or if you are unsure that you are performing them correctly. It is important that these are done the correct way to get the most benefit.

Jack Martin, D.C.
Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician®

Dr. Jack K. Martin received his Bachelor of Sciences degree in Biomedical Sciences at Grand Valley State University. After which he went on to receive his doctorate in Chiropractic at Palmer college of chiropractic in Davenport Iowa. For the past 10 years, he has been practicing in central Ohio treating many issues ranging from headaches, neck/back pain, sciatica, sports injuries and to back issues due to pregnancy. He has had great success working with athletes and expectant mothers. In 2013 Dr. Martin obtained the postgraduate designation of Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) giving him extensive knowledge in sports-related injuries. The skills of the chiropractic sports physician extend to performance optimization of the athlete’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems. In September 2017, Dr. Martin moved to mid-Michigan to join the iHealth of Michigan team. Dr. Martin and his wife Laura, their 2 daughters Saren and Reese are excited to be back in their home state of Michigan. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, running, fishing, and basketball.

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