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The Ultimate Guide to Good Posture

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A recent study from Harvard business school showed that when people who adopted powerful postures (open shoulders and straight spines) had a 20 percent increase in testosterone (male hormone) levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels (stress hormone); On the contrary, people who slouched had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in Cortisol! [13]

 

Modern Life Alert: Forward Head Posture Can Damage Your Health

 

TextNeck

If you’re constantly sitting at a computer, using your smartphone ‘Text Neck’ or otherwise engaging in activities that thrust your neck into an unnatural position (reading a book), you may be suffering from Forward Head Posture (FHP)
Spinal surgeons say they are concerned that smartphones are causing a new crisis in posture. Especially in teenagers, the effect of which will be seen long after they have forgotten quite why it was important to check ‘WhatsApp’!

What It Is

Think of a vertical line running up through your spine. In a perfect world where everyone had perfect posture, your head would be balanced directly above your spine in alignment with that vertical line. Forward head posture occurs when you consistently hold your head in an excessive forward position. This position, in turn, extends your middle cervical spine, flexes your lower cervical spine and plagues you with rounded shoulders and a hunched back.

Who Gets It

  • You’re a prime candidate for FHP if you sit at a computer all day, are an avid smartphone user. Computer screens, smartphones are often placed below eye level, forcing to thrust their heads forward for better viewing.
  • People who carry heavy backpacks, especially children, are often prone to FHP, thrusting their heads forward in an attempt to compensate for the heavy weight on their backs. [4]
  • People who wear glasses with multifocal lenses or are fans of high-heeled shoes often fall prey to FHP, as do those who breathe through their mouths, rather than their noses. [1,2.3]

What It Does to Your Health

Anterior-Head-Carriage

 

FHP can bring on neck pain, sore shoulders, respiratory weakness and a variety of headache types. [5,6,7]. Tension headaches are particularly common, thanks to the ongoing tension FHP places at the back of the neck. [8]

Keep up this poor posture as an ongoing habit, and you can eventually suffer from muscle imbalances that affect your entire body. Muscles held long enough in a chronically lengthened or shortened position will begin to believe that’s their natural state and strive to adapt. The end result is a “faulty relationship” among the various parts of your body, increasing the strain and decreasing your body’s performance. [10,11]

How to Fix It

First, there are better ways to view devices. You don’t have to bend your neck; just hold your smartphone, iPad etc. a bit higher and angle your eyes down. Realizing you’re engaging in FHP is the first step toward its correction, as is learning what constitutes the natural positioning of your head and overall posture. [9]

Problem solved? Possibly. Realigning the spine is the next step, which can be helped through thoracic manipulation as part of a thoracic manual treatment plan. [12] The third and final step is maintaining proper posture in all your activities, a move that can be maintained through exercises, stretches, and Pilates.
I have found that exercises that stretch and strengthen affected muscles have been effective for FHP and posture correction. Particularly those that stretched the pectoralis muscles and strengthened the deep neck flexor and shoulder retractors. Upper and lower rhomboids are primary “shoulder retractors”, but trapezius plays a role as well. Depending on who you ask, the posterior serratus  could be involved. The levator scapulae can also contribute to the motion.

Extra posture tips

  • Uncross the legs. “Our bodies are machines that move fluid and gasses back and forth,” says Dr. Steve Weiniger (author of Stand Taller, Live Longer) Prolonged sitting, especially with your legs crossed, can cut off the flow, increase pressure and even cause spider veins. Also the major cause of back stress and pain.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. The height of your chair should allow your knees to form right angles or elevate your feet on a stack of old books.
  • Get a lumbar support for your chair. A lumbar support pillow does some of the work for you by supporting your spine. You’ll be forced into the correct position every time you sit down. For a quicker fix, use a folded or rolled-up towel.
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and keep chest out. Walk proud. Imagine that there is a coat hanger in your shirt pulling you upright!
  • Maintain a correct posture – pin a ribbon to the top and to the bottom of your shirt and keep it taut for 10 minutes at a time.

Conclusion

Rebalance your body and ensure proper posture becomes a part of your daily life.

REFERENCES:

  1. Dimitriadis Z, Kapreli E, Strimpakos N, Oldham J. Respiratory weakness in patients with chronic neck pain. Man Ther.2012;18:248-253.
  2. Hills Willford C, Kisner C,  Glenn T, Sachs L. The Interaction of Wearing Multifocal Lenses With Head Posture and Pain. JOSPT. 1996;23(3):194-199.
  3. Martins Silva A, Rocha de Siqueira G, P. da Silva G. Implications of high-heeled shoes on body posture of adolescents. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2013;31(2):265-71.
  4. Tiemi Okuro R, Moreno Morcillo A, Gonçalves M, Ribeiro O, Sakano E, Blau Margosian Conti P, Dirceu Ribeiro J. Mouth breathing and forward head posture: effects on respiratory biomechanics and exercise capacity in children. J Bras Pneumol.2011;37(4):471-479.
  5. Jull G, Barrett C, Magee R, Ho P. Further clinical clarification of the muscle dysfunction in cervical headache .Cephalalgia. 1999;19:179–85.
  6. Kidd RF, Nelson R. Musculoskeletal dysfunction of the neck in a migraine and tension headache . 1993;33:566–9.
  7. Haughie LJ, Fiebert IM, Roach KE. Relationship of forward head posture and cervical backward bending to neck pain. J Manual Manipulative Ther. 1995;3:91–7.
  8. Fernández-de-las-Peñas C, Alonso-Blanco C, Cuadrado ML, Pareja JA. Forward head posture and neck mobility in chronic tension-type headache: a blinded, controlled study. Cephalalgia. 2005;26:314–319.
  9. Kendall FP, McCreary EK, Provance PG. Muscles Testing and Function. 4th Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1993.
  10. Sahrmann S. Diagnosis and treatment of muscle imbalances and musculoskeletal pain syndromes. Continuing education course notes, St. Louis, MO, January 1992.
  11. Hanney W, Kolber M, Schack-Dugre J, Negrete R, Pabian P. The Influence of Education and Exercise on Neck Pain. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2010:166-175.
  12. Lau HM, Wing Chiu TT, Lam TH. The effectiveness of thoracic manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy 2011;16(2):141-7.
  13. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/9/23/cuddy-hormone-people-feel/

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