We have all been corrected by our mom or dad on how we are sitting or standing. For good cause too! I think we all inherently understand that good posture is important. If you don’t think it is that important, just visit a retirement or assisted living facility. What does their posture look like? Now tell me about the enjoyment you see on their faces and status of their health. I think we are on the same page that there is something to be said for one’s posture as it relates to their health.
Here is the question though. Does bad posture create poor health, or does poor health create bad posture? Both actually, and I will try to help you understand the vicious cycle and how to break it.
The first thing you have to understand is that your brain dictates your posture. This super computer has a program running in the background on continuous loop that tells your body how to stand, how to sit and where you are in space. So if you set out to change your posture, it can be done, but you are dealing with neurology and just sitting up straight and exercising is not enough to change it usually.
Your posture is learned. What I mean by that is that you, as a baby, watched your mom, dad, or care takers on how they moved. Your brain sucked this information up and as you developed you started to create your own movement and posture programs. If you stand or move like your parents, you know why now.
But here is where it gets really messy. As you grow and develop you get into more activities and potentially injuries. These all have the opportunity to change your posture. As an example, the average child falls 2000 times when they are learning to walk. That is a tremendous opportunity for injury and to develop some muscles over others in the very beginning. Then maybe there are sport injuries that cause you to favor one side. If you never fully heal from them, you created a new posture from the injury compensation. Then fast forward a few years and you may have a repetitive job or sitting job that tells your main posture muscles to go to sleep. Now, before you know it, your shoulders are rolled forward and head jutting out in front of you.
Your posture is the sum of your habits and injuries.
So what’s the big deal? So what, nobody’s posture is that great. The big deal is that your spine is the main structure involved in creating you posture. It also is designed to have a certain layout of curves and alignment necessary for proper movement, proper posture and proper nerve function. What? Nerve function? That’s right, your spine is the conduit for your spinal cord and nerves from the brain to the entire body. There is information flowing to and fro every moment of your existence. When the alignment and curvature of your spine moves away from normal because of your poor posture it will impact your health, abilities and longevity. Your posture has direct influence on your health. Poor posture has a direct correlation to how long you live and your quality of life. Revisit the assisted living facility if you need to.
It is important to understand what good posture looks like and how to recover it. Proper posture is being able to draw a straight line from your ear to your ankle from the side. And a straight line from your tailbone to the base of your skull.
And how do you achieve this? Essentially you have to interrupt the program the brain is running and then teach it a new one. Easier said than done. There are several ways to achieve this and none are exclusively successful. As a chiropractor I know that the adjustments I deliver interrupt the posture neurology better than anything else out there. But now you have to support the interruption with some positive habits and muscle function (certain ones may need to be reengaged specifically). This will all require a character trait called, tenacity. Good posture is achieved like everything else in health, you earn it over time. Check out this infographic and get to work on in.