Your posture is the window to your spine. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 Americans sits at work for more than 8 hours per day. This includes desk work and driving/commuting for work. Because of this, it is more important than ever to address the issues with posture and ergonomics. The ideal alignment of your spine which appears straight up and down from the front and has opposing curves from the side is engineered to support the body when upright. This allows a balance of flexibility as well as stability.
There are spinal discs that are ligamentous tissue with fluid in the middle, that act as a shock absorb when accepting load placed on the spine. There are significant loads placed on the bones of the spine and the discs when sitting and bending. Load is removed from the discs when lying down, however, now the curves in the spine are stressed, depending on the position the spine is resting in. Now, the curve in the neck is typically the part of the spine that initiates loss of posture when sitting or using the computer. As the head comes forward, the curve is lost in the neck. As the curve is lost in the neck, biomechanical stress is transferred to the spinal joints lower part of the neck. Muscles and ligaments have to work harder to support the changing position of the neck. Over time, degenerative changes, (arthritis) begins to form in the neck as an adaptation to stress.
Sitting can have an affect on the neck as well as the low back. When we sit, approximately 40% more load is placed on the discs in the low back compared to standing. Even more pressure is placed on the discs with forward leaning or head forward posture. How much time do you spend sitting between your workday as well as commuting?
How do we correct our posture?
In order to correct our posture, we have to understand how our spine functions. A concept that needs to be understood is that your posture is based off of reflexive muscles. Your postural muscles react to their environment; you do not have to think about contracting the muscles to make them work. However, over time, tissues will fall into a new pattern that is learned with poor posture. It is not as simple as just reminding yourself to sit up straight. Over time, gravity will keep winning and you will continue to fall into patterns of poor posture.
A chiropractic evaluation involves assessing the alignment of the spinal joints and assessing which joints that are misaligned and creating stress on the spine as well as the spinal cord that the bones protects. Ultimately it is the stress on the spinal cord and nerves, (nervous system) that is need of correcting. Once the misaligned vertebrae, (subluxations) are determined, then the corrective adjustments can be given along with specific exercises to strengthen and support the spine.
Next, it is important to determine what changes in ergonomics can be made with workstations. Factors affecting your posture include computer monitor, keyboard, desk height, chair height and position. Once changes can be made to optimize the workstation position, then implementing a stretching and break schedule to minimizing the slumping and ultimate head forward posture that happens when you sit at a desk too long.
The goal is to optimize your spinal alignment and teach stretches and exercises to help support your posture. Also, to minimize stress at the workstation and give strategies to break the patterns and bad habits of posture during your workday. By making these changes a part of your daily routine over time, there is a greater chance of successful implementation. The health of your spine is and your posture correction is a journey, not a destination.
Call our clinic today to have your spine and posture evaluated. 253-867-2655