As a practicing chiropractor of 35 years I have seen how important good posture is to our health. We all know that poor posture can cause neck and lower back pain. But did you know that bad posture is linked to high blood pressure and even, a shorter life span? This article will discuss bad posture and its harmful effects on the body. Normal posture will be defined. How to achieve proper posture will be discussed.
In 2004 Deborah Kado MD and colleagues published a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that discussed poor posture. She used the term called hyperkyphosis. Hyperkyphosis can simply be described as postural slouching; where the head and shoulders slump forward. She noted that older people with hyperkyphotic posture had a 44% increased chance of dying. She linked poor posture to an increased rate of mortality due to atherosclerosis, which is simply hardening and blockage of the arteries.
In 2019 the Asian Spine Journal released a scientific research paper detailing an increase of hypertension (high blood pressure) in middle-aged and elderly people. The mean average age of those in the study was close to 80 years old but the authors noted that poor postural changes began when people were in their 30s.
Normal posture can be imagined as if we were looking at military person who is standing at attention. Their head and shoulders are back. They definitely don’t have a slouched upper body posture. Their stomach and hips are also back and not thrust forward. If you looked at them from the side you could draw a straight line from their ankle, through their hip, continuing through the middle of the shoulder and through the opening of the ear. They look good! Their clothes fit better. They carry themselves with self-respect.
In my chiropractic practice I work daily to improve the posture of my patients. If their spine and pelvis is misaligned, I use various chiropractic techniques to bring them back into proper alignment. If they entered the office with neck and back pain this almost always brings pain relief. I also show them very simple stretching and strengthening exercises to help them with their posture.
One visualization I like to pass along is to imagine standing as though a helium balloon were attached by a string to the top of your head. Automatically, this brings one’s posture into a much better state. If you stand, walk and sit with this image in mind it can’t help but to improve posture and ultimately, health.