Posture is the window to our health, and having poor posture is the root cause of many of our health issues today. Americans who own a computer or media device sit for more than 14 hours a day on average, and recent studies show that if you sit for an average of more than 8 hours a day it can have the same negative affects to our long-term health as smoking. This sounds ridiculous of course, however modern research strongly supports this, hence the new medical term, ‘sitting is the new smoking’.
Poor posture is simply a consequence of repetitive stresses, and the biggest repetitive stress we encounter day in day out is sitting. The number one reason for employee absenteeism in America is musculoskeletal issues. These are caused from poor posture and the compensatory patterns the body adapts from them, such as forward head posture, or what we now call within the health care community, ‘tech neck’. Essentially the more time we spend sitting, such as working at our desks, the greater the risk of poor posture.
The way this happens is due to two main factors, simply put it is due to the majority of what we do today is in front of our bodies, such as looking down at our computers for 40+ hours a week. This creates the dominant, bigger muscles in our bodies such as our chest and shoulders being used too much and over time become dominant over the muscles in the back of our bodies. At the same time this is happening, the muscles that counter act this, which are all of our postural muscles and are responsible for keeping us upright and in good posture, mainly in the front of the neck and between our shoulder blades, become weak. Our bodies are very economical, and when we do not use something consistently, through inactivity such as sitting, the body allows the muscle group to become weak. So as the front of our bodies work too hard and become dominate, the back of our bodies become weak and lazy. This negative cycle over time creates poor posture and as we will discuss at length, poor posture is the root cause of many of our health issues.
Anterior head carriage, or forward head posture is a consequence of too much sitting and is synonymous with poor posture. Tension headaches are directly correlated with this condition. Tension Headaches affect 40% of corporate workers in America, and the same studies show that the worse your posture is, the more frequent the headaches. Similar studies show that this also causes proprioceptive issues such as poor balance and vertigo.
Another consequence of having anterior head carriage is the stress and tension it adds to the soft tissue within your neck, causing neck pain. This is because on average the human head weighs 10-12lbs. So as we look forward the weight of our head slowly pulls our necks out of alignment and over time the stress and tension break the soft tissue down, causing it to become weak and unstable, causing neck pain, upper back pain and shoulder pain.
Another complication of this forward head posture is how it can cause disc degeneration within the spine. For every inch forward our head shifts it adds around 12-15 lbs. of pressure to the spine and discs, about 30-45 lbs. on average, this stress and tension over time causes disc degeneration. This degeneration can cause numbness and tingling into the hands and fingers as well as other health issues. In our previous blog post we discussed the AMA publishing a study stating over 70% of carpel tunnel syndrome is actually an issue deriving from the nerves in our neck been compressed and not an issue within the nerve in our wrist.
Lastly, having poor posture affects our homeostasis and how we feel and function on a day to day basis. When we have poor posture, it puts our bodies under a constant state of stress. Our bodies’ physiological response to stress is to raise and elevate our cortisol levels, which is one of our primary stress hormones. When we have a prolonged period of elevated cortisol levels it affects how we absorb and process other important hormones, such as insulin. When our hormone proliferation and reception is affected we start to see dysfunction in how we feel, specifically conditions that affect the thyroid, such as poor metabolism, causing weight gain, poor sleep habits, low energy levels, fatigue and anxiety. Within the health care system, we call these corporate lifestyle diseases. We can make modifications in our day to day routine such as diet changes and nutritional supplementation, however if you do not address the structure of your spine these conditions struggle to improve. As the great Greek philosopher Socrates once said, ‘In sickness and disease, look to the spine first’.
If you feel as though you have poor posture and are suffering with any of the issues we have discussed in this blog or simply want to look better aesthetically or perform better in the gym know that the doctors here at Advanced Health Chiropractic have helped thousands of your Chicagoland friends and neighbors with all forms of postural issues and helped them to get out of pain and start living life as they should be able to, without limitation.
At Advanced Health Chiropractic we pride ourselves on a detailed and thorough Initial consultation, including a detailed health history, orthopedic and neurological testing followed by some state-of-the-art imaging, which allows us to pinpoint your issue, allowing for a clear diagnosis and a specific course of treatment addressing the root cause of your issue and a tailored plan to achieve all your health and wellness goals. We use a blend of chiropractic care, and physical therapy to achieve your goals, including state of the art spinal traction and soft tissue therapy, which allows us to offer objective long-term results. If you feel as though you have poor posture or are suffering with any other form of pain and have tried other forms of treatment with other providers and are frustrated with trying to get the issue corrected, we encourage you to give us a call so we can help you live life as its intended, pain free. We look forward to meeting you here at the clinic and being the resource you have been searching for.