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Posture and Spinal Health

Woman sitting in office chair with bad posture

What is Your Posture Telling You About Your Health?

Most of us started hearing about posture way back in grade school when our parents and teachers began to tell us to "stand up straight". We were told to have "good posture", often with the implication that such an achievement was associated with strength of character, discipline, and definiteness of purpose. But, typically, the means of accomplishing good posture were never exactly disclosed, other than the child's being encouraged to "suck in your stomach" and "pull your shoulders back". Unfortunately, these directives did not result in a pleasing, biomechanically effective, natural posture. Rather, these commands caused children to develop tight muscles. Fortunately, it is possible to attain good posture in ways that support a person's well-being.

A person's posture is primarily associated with the function of her or his spine. The adult human spine is most commonly composed of 26 movable segments. The neck contains 7 vertebrae, the mid back contains 12 vertebrae, the lower back contains 5 vertebrae, and there is 1 sacrum and 1 coccyx. The neck (cervical spine) is normally convex to the front, the mid back (thoracic spine) is normally convex to the rear, and the lower back (lumbar spine) is normally convex to the front. The sacrum and coccyx are oriented convexly to the rear. These alternating curves from top to bottom create biomechanical balance and participate in creating spinal flexibility. As a result, the spine is able to distribute biomechanical loads effectively and efficiently, resulting in ease of motion and strength throughout the course of one's daily activities.

But various musculoskeletal habits, physical and mental stress, diet and nutrition, injury, and spinal biomechanical dysfunction can all impact a person's posture. Over time, any and all of these circumstances can diminish the degree of curvature of affected spinal regions, reducing the normal biomechanical curves of the spine. Most typically, the spinal curvatures are flattened, resulting in loss of the normal curves in the neck, mid back, and lower back. The straightened regions of vertebrae lose their biomechanical resilience, with accompanying muscle tension, muscle spasms, and pain in various regions of the spine. As well, seemingly innocuous movements such as bending over to pick up a dropped pen or pencil, or bending over to place groceries in the trunk of one's car, may result in sudden, significant pain and injuries lingering for 2-3 weeks or more.

Regular chiropractic care provides substantial assistance to all members of the family regarding restoring and maintaining graceful, functional posture. Improved posture enables us to perform smoothly our activities of daily living. By detecting, analyzing, and correcting spinal biomechanical dysfunction and nerve interference, regular chiropractic care helps reestablish normal spinal biomechanics and improve physiological function and performance throughout the body. As a result, regular chiropractic care helps the entire family achieve higher levels of long-term health and well-being.

Yoganandan N, et al: Fatigue responses of the human cervical spine intervertebral discs. J Mech Behav Biomed Mater 69:30-38, 2017

Mörl F, Bradl I: Lumbar posture and muscular activity while sitting during office work. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 23(2):362-368, 2013

Żak M, Pezowicz C: Analysis of the impact of the course of hydration on the mechanical properties of the annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc. Eur Spine J 25(9):2681-2690, 2016