Want to Prevent Spinal Related Pain? Check Your Posture First.
By: Dr. Kristin Smith
Your spine is strong and stable when you practice healthy posture. But when you stoop or slouch, your muscles and ligaments struggle to keep you balanced. This can lead to back pain, headaches and other problems. Good posture helps maintain the natural curves of the spine, while poor posture does the opposite — which can stress or pull muscles and cause pain.
When standing, keep these tips in mind: keep your shoulders back and relaxed, pull in your abdomen, keep your feet about hip distance apart while balancing your weight evenly on both feet, and let your hands hang naturally at your sides. Don’t forget to avoid tilt- ing your head forward, backward or sideways, and make sure your knees are relaxed and not locked.
To test your standing posture, try the wall test. Stand with your heels 2-4 inches away from the wall with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall. Slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall. You should feel about one hand’s thickness of space between your back and the wall. If there’s too much space, tighten your abdominal muscles to flatten the curve in your back. If there’s too little space, arch your back so that your hand fits comfortably behind you. Walk away from the wall while maintaining this posture. Try to keep it up throughout your daily activities.
When sitting, keep these tips in mind: choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor and keeps your knees level with your hips (if necessary, use a footstool). Sit back in your chair. If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back. Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling and tuck your chin in slightly. Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight while keeping your shoulders relaxed (not elevated or rounded).
Maintaining proper posture keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly. It can help decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis while decreasing stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together. It can also prevent the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions. Lastly, it prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
Chiropractors specialize in proper posture related to the spine and spinal related structures. Stop by and visit us so we can analyze you posture and answer any questions you may have. Prevent spinal related pain before it starts and work on improving your posture.