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About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. have had neck or back pain significant enough to seek out professional health care at some point, but most do not recognize where much of the pain started. According to the CDC, an estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. – more than one in five – suffer from chronic pain, defined as having pain on most days or every day during the past six months. There are many factors that may contribute to chronic pain, but one of the most common is that of poor posture.
To really ensure your posture is where it needs to be, you must ensure that you have good posture both dynamically and statically; the key is the spine. There are three natural curves in your spine: one in the lower back, one in the mid-back, and one in the upper back. Correcting your posture to help maintain the natural curves in your back is vital to your spinal and overall health.
Patients are often surprised to learn of some of the unexpected side effects brought on by poor posture. According to a recent article from Harvard Medical School, poor posture has been linked to incontinence, constipation, heartburn, and slowed digestion. The source attributes back and neck conditions as potential issues of poor posture and asserts that researchers are also looking into ties between posture and its effects on mood, sleep, fatigue, and jaw alignment.
Further to this point, the past decade has really seen an increase in use of handheld devices, laptop and desktop computers, and gaming systems. Technology definitely makes our lives easier in so many ways, but rarely do we stop to think about the effects it has on our body. Particularly the effects on our neck, shoulders, and spine. For example, when the head tilts down to look at a phone screen, it can add up to 60 pounds of extra strain and pressure on the neck. So, whether you’re a work-from-home warrior, gamer, student with homework on the computer, or really anyone else that relies on electronics, it’s important to recognize how posture affects your daily routine, and what you can do to maintain a healthy spine.
Aside from standing up straight, the following tips can help enhance posture:
- Take a look: Look at your posture in the mirror or have someone take a picture of you standing normally. Compare your image to photos of people with good posture, and you’ll begin to see the difference.
- Get that standing desk: It may seem like the latest craze, but a standing desk allows you to keep that good posture throughout the day and improves your circulation.
- Look up when texting: Try holding your phone at eye level when texting and browsing. This will avoid the effects of text neck.
- Exercise: Moving and stretching will keep your muscles stimulated and your posture long. Exercises that are designed to strengthen your core muscles that support your spine result in a straighter carriage.
- Breathe: Deep breathing, which is breathing that comes from your diaphragm, requires you to stand up straight. Start the practice of deep breathing just a couple of times a day to trigger you to check your posture.
- Sleep right: Improvements in your own home can help improve your posture. The pillow you use on your bed should be under your head, not your shoulders. It should also be the amount of thickness that places your head in a normal position.
- Visit your chiropractor: Your chiropractor is the best resource for keeping your spine straight and aligned. Making routine visits, even when you aren’t in pain, will keep your back healthy and your posture on point.
If you notice a decrease in your range of motion or you’re experiencing lower back or neck pain, it may be the result of poor posture. Chiropractic care can help improve posture, which can allow for more flexibility, improved structural support, and better range of motion, as well as improved nerve function by properly coordinating your body to respond to environmental stress and providing individuals with a strong foundation for improving posture.
For more information, visit www.thejoint.com.