Fitness Friday: How’s Your Posture?

By Lisa Christie on 10/19/2012
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I had my first appointment ever with a chiropractor yesterday. The jury is still out on whether or not she will help my back feel better, but it got me thinking about how my posture could be contributing to my back woes. Lo and behold, we wrote a blog post about this very topic a while back, and I thought it was worth sharing again. 

It has been estimated that in Western countries, 75 percent of work performed is done seated. We sit at work and we sit as we drive home to go sit on our couch!! How does this affect our posture and contribute to back pain?

Effects of Posture

In simple terms, posture can be defined as the way one holds their body while standing, sitting and walking. According to the Mayo Clinic, posture is an important part of preventing back problems and fatigue. When the back is straight, the spine is supported and stabilized, but as you slouch or otherwise engage in poor posture, your spine no longer has the support it needs to stay balanced, leading to many health problems.

Sore Muscles. When you slouch, the muscles have to work harder to keep the spine stabilized and protected. The extra work on these muscles can cause muscle tightness and fatigue. This can lead to chronic issues with tight and sore muscles from the neck all the way down to the lower back, affecting flexion and extension, which allow you to bend forward and lift objects.

Spinal Curvature. When bad posture is practiced, the spine can experience pressure, slowly influencing the spine curves to change their positions. The spine is specifically designed to help absorb shock and keep you balanced, but as the spinal position changes, this ability becomes compromised.

Subluxations. Once the spinal curve is altered, one major issue that can occur are subluxations. Vertebral subluxations occur when a vertebrae become misaligned from the rest of the spine. This affects the overall integrity of the spinal column. These misalignments can eventually cause chronic health problems including stress and irritation of surrounding spinal nerves.

Blood Vessel Constriction. As bad posture changes the alignment of the spine, blood vessel constriction can occur. The constriction of the blood vessels around the spine can cut off blood supply to the cells of the muscles, which can affect nutrient and oxygen supply. Blood vessel constriction can also raise your chances of clot formation.

Nerve Constriction. As the spine changes in shape, the resulting movements or subluxations can put pressure on the surrounding spinal nerves. Because the nerves that connect to the spine come from all over the body, these pinched nerves can not only cause neck and back pain but may also cause pain in other unrelated areas of the body.

So, what does this all mean? In a nutshell – posture is paramount to good back health. How is your posture?

Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography

2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Julia says:

    the hard and true facts! i have struggled with posture since my childhood. slouching at recess to hide away, slouching in the classroom during boring algebra classes. my goal is to get back into a yoga practice to help me readjust my spine. as someone dealing with MS-like neurological problems, i know that this ‘should’ be a priority. it also gives me a reason to use yoga not as exercise (aka, ‘no thank you’), but as an opportunity to relax and INVEST IN MY FUTURE!

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks, Julia. I think it’s really hard to have good posture when we spend so much time sitting at desks, driving, etc. I think yoga would be good for me, too.

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