Posture: Keeping it Straight – How Can Bad Posture Affect my Health?

Dr Philip Altieri

When we think about what influences our health or how we feel, you probably never really think about how your posture may play a key role. Posture is not just a superficial, outward appearance as it may give signs or clues as to what your spine looks like and what could be the cause of your pain or unwanted health condition.

There is an anatomical correct posture that our bodies should be in when analyzed from a frontal and side view. Let me give you what a “basic” correct posture should look like. When viewed head on from the front, there should be good congruent symmetry bilaterally (both sides of the body should look very similar). You should be able to draw a straight line across the eyes and ears without head tilt present to the right or left. The shoulders should measure level without one being higher than the other or one side rotated forward. The hips should have a level presentation without one side looking higher or jutting forward. Both knees should be forward facing without any bow-leggedness or knocked-knee present. And, the feet should be facing forward with no more than a 15 degree flare outward or evidence of flat feet. When viewing posture from the side the head should be centered over the shoulder without forward head translation. The shoulders should be back and not rounded forward with internal rotation and in alignment with the ear. You should be able to draw a straight line down from the shoulder through the center of the hip. There should be a very slight forward bend in the knees and not “locked out” or in hyperextension. And finally, the ankle bone (lateral malleolus) should fall in alignment with the line drawn down from the shoulder and hip.

Bad posture is not just unattractive, but it can lead to things like arthritis, degenerative joint conditions, balance problems, headaches, TMJ disorders (jaw pain), neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, walking problems, pes planus (flat feet), and a host of other conditions! Improper postural alignment puts undue stress, strain, and tension on the joints, muscles, ligaments, and the spine. These abnormal forces can be transmitted to the spine and nerves causing pain, numbness, tingling, or other dysfunction to the supplied or surrounding areas.

Proper posture should be instilled from a very young age so the spine grows straight  and the muscles and ligaments don’t become deformed over time and are trained to be strong. These days we all need to mindful of our posture when working on computers, tablets or playing on our smartphones. If your job entails sitting at a desk, make sure you have a good ergonomic workstation setup as to alleviate any undue tensions on the joints and muscles. If you have a job where you are bending, lifting, and twisting all day, than make sure you are utilizing proper techniques, stretch to stay limber, and work your core muscles to stay strong. It just takes a little thought, effort, and some time to have and maintain good healthy posture. One other important thing to consider to correct postural imbalances and/or maintain proper posture is to be evaluated by a chiropractor! Chiropractors are trained and study proper body biomechanics and can usually tell a lot just by your outward postural presentation. I analyze and correct postural imbalances in my office everyday on patients of all ages, as a matter of fact, the younger the better. The earlier I can influence or correct postural deviations, the better the chances are for the patient to not be aggravated with any of the conditions mentioned above. Plus, your body and overall health will function more optimally when it’s in proper alignment and sustains good posture. A chiropractor can also give you home correction exercises and stretches to help those postural imbalances as well as reinforce the in-office treatment being rendered. And finally, in addition to corrective chiropractic adjustments, specific functional stretches and exercises, a doctor of chiropractic will make appropriate workplace ergonomic suggestions to help or correct your postural imbalances whether you sit at desk, work construction, or drive a truck.

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