While it always looks better to stand straight, the importance of posture deals with far more than just that. As you’ll find out posture plays an important role in your overall health, dealing primarily with the structural aspect of the health triangle.
The Postural Feedback Loop
When there’s good posture, there is symmetry in the human frame. You breathe better, have more confidence, and reduced stress. However when your frame shifts into poor posture (shoulders rounded forward, head shifted in front of the spine, and or a curved upper back) the body becomes distressed. Prolonged poor posture can lead to a prolonged distressed state eventually resulting in Sympathetic Dominance. A condition where your bodies automatic operating system is working in overdrive and can produce allot of other secondary conditions or symptoms. Like poor sleep, GI issues, sensitivity to light, or sound… Just to name a few.
Behind the Fight or Flight Response
In the brain, poor posture activates the stress center and the neuron (called the red nucleus) which controls flexion of the human arms and legs is sitting in the stress center. The red nucleus is the neuron primarily responsible for the physical responses to the Sympathetic Nervous System activation. When there’s danger and the Sympathetic Nervous System kicks in the red nucleus prepares you to either fight and the shoulders round forward, head pushed forward, and or to run away in which the hamstrings and calves tighten.
While this sort of physical response is imminent when there’s danger due to the sympathetic nervous system activation, it’s also imminent as a result of poor posture. This type of posture, shoulders slouched, head forward or drooping, simulates the same physical response as there would be in danger and as a result the red nucleus kicks in and the sympathetic nervous system switches on unnecessarily. Remember this is part of the autonomic nervous system, so even though one may know very well they’re not in any actual danger, the system switches on to the sympathetic state because it seems as if it’s in danger.
The bigger issue with this problem is not only is the red nucleus activated, but the other four factors (Mesencephalic Reticular Formation, Superior Colliculus, Inferior Colliculus, and Edinger Westphal Nucleus) behind sympathetic nervous system are activated because when one is activated they’re all activated. As a result from poor posture one may experience some “side effects” such as sensitivity to light (Superior Colliculus) or sensitivity to sound (Inferior Colliculus) as well as accompanying headaches.
When the shoulders are rounded forward and become tense, the body’s capacity to take in air decreases. Rounded shoulders cause the rib cage to become tight meaning it can’t expand as much to take in air leading to less oxygen for the body. Cells and in particular nerve cells rely on oxygen to function and less of it means they can’t function optimally and eventually make it harder your brain to function. This decrease in oxygen intake can primarily manifests itself in one feeling tired. And some my experience shortness of breathe.
Lower Back Pain (Sway Back)
When the shoulders are rounded forward and the head is pushed forward, to not lose balance, the body will readjust by curving the lower back to straighten up more. As a result more pressure will be put on the lower back to keep the body straight and as a result can cause lower back pain.
Correct Poor Posture
It’s important to first understand what good or normal posture is. The chart below is intended to guide you in understanding what good posture is in the various positions.
Posture Rehab Device
This device is simply a 3ft (36″) foam roller. It is an affective and affordable way to improve your posture. You can get one here https://www.amazon.com/LuxFit-Speckled-Roller-Instructional-18-Inch/dp/B01BW2YZ1O/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?keywords=foam%2Broller&qid=1557426075&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&th=1&psc=1 Align the foam roller along the spine and lay on it for around 15 minutes at least once a day. In this exercise gravity does the work and helps open up the chest and align the head in a relaxed position.
Chiropractic Rib Adjustments
The ribs are supposed to move up and down to provide air flow. Poor posture, especially the rounding of the shoulders and tight neck muscles decrease the room for the ribs to move up, decreasing airflow. In our office we perform rib adjustments to free the ribs up again and allow for better movement and therefore oxygenation.
Chiropractic Spinal Adjustments
As mentioned before the spine is the main communication system for the body. Having a properly trained chiropractor perform postural spinal adjustments can improve the communication of the brain to the muscles and organs of the body. Which improves the overall functioning of the body.
About the Author
Dr. Joe Adams is neurologically trained chiropractor at Calibration Chiropractic, based in Mansfield, TX. He works with those who are looking for a customized & comprehensive approach to care.