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Posted on 02-23-2017

When I was a teenager, my father used to grab my shoulders and pull them back when he caught me slouching. “Stand up straight” he would say. I would try to comply, but standing the way he wanted me to, just didn’t feel comfortable. Good posture doesn’t happen instantaneously. Professional athletes are probably the most recognizable group of people that overall demonstrate proper body alignment due to the exercises they routinely do that cannot be performed correctly without the proper arch in the back. You may think that you don’t have to worry about proper body alignment since you don’t plan on making your tennis or golf addiction into a profession. You couldn’t be more wrong. It is estimated that a third of all Americans experience some level of chronic neck or back problems by the time they reach their fifties. Poor posture causes increased strain on muscles, joints and ligaments. Minor injuries that heal quickly in your youth take longer to heal as you age and may not heal at all.

What does a properly aligned spine look like?

Although my father always told me to stand up straight, the spine is not straight, but actually is comprised of four curves: two inward and one outward that move, and one at the base of your spine that is stationary.  When viewed from the side, a properly aligned spine, or what is called a neutral spine, forms an S shape. The spinal column is comprised of vertebrae whose job it is to protect the nerves and spinal cord, and with the help of cartilaginous discs that sit between them, act as shock absorbers.

1) Neck- when properly aligned the seven vertebrae in your neck should curve slightly inward

2) Thoracic (upper back) - when properly aligned the twelve thoracic vertebrae curve slightly outward

3) Lumbar (lower back) – when properly aligned the five vertebrae in the lumbar area of your spine should curve slightly inward

4) Sacral (base of the spine) – the sacral area at the base of the spine consists of five segments that are fused together.

What is the effect of poor posture?

A spinal column that is in alignment or exhibiting good posture is necessary to properly support the head and body. Poor posture changes the neutral balance of your spine by either increasing or decreasing its normal curves; making muscles, ligaments, and joints work harder to support your body. Short-term effects of poor posture are muscle strain and ligament pain but studies are showing that poor posture can have long term effects.

Poor posture causes uneven pressure on vertebral discs and can cause uneven wear patterns leading to pain and discomfort.

Poor posture can deepen depression

Poor posture not only communicates a lack of confidence but negatively impacts hormone production. A Harvard Business School Study showed that good posture increased Testosterone production by 20% and decreased cortisol levels by 25%.

Poor posture can impact your digestive organs and slow the digestive process leading to an increase in constipation.

Poor posture can negatively impact life expectancy due to an increase in cardiovascular issues.

Spinal Alignment Self-Check

Stand with your back to a wall and step backward until your head, upper back, and buttocks touch the wall (about 3-4 inches from the wall). From this position, you should be able to slide your hand behind your lower back and behind your neck.  Be aware that this space should not be more than about two inches.

Chiropractic Care

Your chiropractor is a great source of information, support, and treatment for incorrect spinal alignment. Spinal screenings by a trained and experienced chiropractor such as Dr. Kyle Pelphrey can help identify, or assist in the diagnosis of, many health issues, unlocking the door to improved health and well-being.  A trained chiropractor can identify issues with your posture through postural screenings. Through spinal adjustment, your chiropractor can begin the restoration of the natural curvature of your spine.

Pelphrey Chiropractic is Lexington’s guru on posture. Call today for a private screening or for a schedule of health fairs or community events where screenings are provided. Contact us today at 859-296-4889 to arrange a screening at your event or workplace.

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