Your desk chair, steering wheel, and smart phone are trying to kill you.
Did your mom nag you about your posture like mine did? Turns out she was right! Deviations from normal posture can and will impair normal, healthy function in your body. Here’s how:
The Architect of the human body may have shared the basic design with many other creatures, but in mankind, the structure turned upright. This freed those front legs to do other things like create masterpieces of engineering, or change the TV channel with the remote. Standing upright requires the spine to support the weight of everything above the hips, roughly half your body weight.
As adults, we don’t usually think too much about the balance of standing. It took a long time to get there, though. What takes some four-legged creatures just a few minutes to learn, typically takes a human one year to accomplish and several years more to master. The neurology of standing and moving upright is many times more complicated than being on all fours.
Situated at the very top of your body is your head. It has a specific center of gravity that is easy to see. From the front, the head should rest in the middle between the shoulders. From the side, the ear hole should be located directly above the middle of the shoulder.
The most significant and common deviation I see in practice, is the head moving forward of this position. It’s called Forward Head Posture (FHP). This posture is associated with arthritic spinal degeneration, a narrowing of the spinal cord canal which is called stenosis, disc herniation, loss of spinal curves, vertebral subluxation, headache, loss of range of motion, and other issues. Additionally, as the head moves forward, the leverage to cause damage increases.
These changes aren’t limited to the biomechanical. The main trunk of the brain-body connection, better known as the spinal cord, runs right through there. Postural distortions affect neurological function both directly and indirectly. When you disturb neurological function, you necessarily disturb the body’s ability to heal and regulate.
Any activity that juts the head forward encourages this posture. Desk posture, driving posture, mobile device posture, TV watching posture, even book reading posture encourages FHP. Very few activities specifically counteract it. Look around. How many people will you see today with FHP? All of them are at increased risk for accelerated wear and tear, premature aging, and a host of health complications.
Even if we could, simply eliminating FHP promoting activities wouldn’t reverse the damage. Activities including core-strengthening and flexibility are helpful in supporting proper posture and may help reduce some of the effects. The key to it all is a properly aligned and functioning spine. Nobody is better at helping you achieve that than your friendly neighborhood chiropractor.