Spinal Hygiene

Understanding Why Poor Posture Happens and How To Fix It

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Factors that cause poor unhealthy posture can be caused by the day-to-day effects of gravity on the body, personal, work, or sports injuries, illness, genetics, or a combination of these factors is also common. This leads to neck and back pain that leads to various musculoskeletal health issues. Achieving consistent healthy posture requires technique and practice. Chiropractic treatment with massage and/or physical therapy can restore muscles to optimal mobility and function.

Causes of Unhealthy Posture

Factors that cause posture problems, like back pain, are often caused by issues with the strength and flexibility ratio between the body’s muscle groups that hold the body upright.

Injury Guarding

  • After sustaining an injury, muscles can spasm to protect the injured and the surrounding area.
  • Muscle spasms can help keep injuries stable and protect them from worsening, but they can also limit movements and cause pain symptoms.
  • Prolonged muscle spasms can lead to weakened/vulnerable muscles creating an imbalance between the muscles guarding against the injury and those still working normally.
  • This can cause the body posture to shift to compensate.

Muscle Tension

  • Muscle weakness or tension can develop when holding a prolonged position day after day or when doing daily tasks/chores in a way that places added tension on the body.
  • When certain muscle groups are weak or tense, posture will be affected.
  • Aches and pains begin to develop from the awkward positioning and the other muscles that must work overtime.

Habits

  • Compensation is when the body can still achieve its movement goal but with compromised and unhealthy alignment.
  • As the body compensates and accommodates muscle spasms, weakness, tension, and/or imbalance begin to present.
  • When this happens, the body may be forced to use alternate and less efficient patterns of muscle contraction and flexion.

Technology

  • Working with several combined devices can slowly shift the body from the correct alignment.
  • Incessant texting can cause text neck to develop, a condition in which the neck is held in too much flexion, or forward bending, for a prolonged time.
  • Discomfort, trigger points, and pain symptoms will start to develop, which leads to further posture problems.

Stress

  • Individuals who experience stress regularly and easily are factors that cause posture problems.
  • Stress can contribute to shallow breathing or overly-contracted muscles, causing the body to shift out of alignment.
  • Adjusting posture can help counter the stress effects.

Foot Wear

  • Footwear affects posture.
  • Heels extend the body’s weight forward, which can cause hip and spinal misalignment.
  • Individuals can wear down the outside or inside of their shoes faster because of things like:
  • Weight-bearing habits.
  • Imbalanced kinetic forces will be translated up the ankle, knee, hip, and lower back.
  • This can lead to pain and discomfort in any of these joints.

Genetics

  • Sometimes factors that cause unhealthy posture are hereditary.
  • For example, Scheuermann’s disease – a condition in which adolescent boys develop pronounced kyphosis in their thoracic spines.
  • It is recommended to work with the individual’s primary/specialist healthcare provider in conjunction with a chiropractic specialist team for treatment and management.

Chiropractic treatment can help individuals achieve and maintain proper posture through various massage therapies to release tightness and relax the muscles, decompression to realign the spine, adjustments to realign the body, and postural training through exercises and stretches to develop healthy postural habits.


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References

In, Tae-Sung et al., “Spinal and Pelvic Alignment of Sitting Posture Associated with Smartphone Use in Adolescents with Low Back Pain.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health vol. 18,16 8369. 7 Aug. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18168369

Korakakis, Vasileios, et al. “Physiotherapist perceptions of optimal sitting and standing posture.” Musculoskeletal Science & Practice vol. 39 (2019): 24-31. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.004

Mansfield JT, Bennett M. Scheuermann Disease. [Updated 2022 Aug 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499966/

Mingels, Sarah, et al. “Is There Support for the Paradigm ‘Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache’? A Comprehensive Review.” Current pain and headache reports vol. 23,3 17. 4 Mar. 2019, doi:10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2

Mork, Paul Jarle, and Rolf H Westgaard. “Back posture and low back muscle activity in female computer workers: a field study.” Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon) vol. 24,2 (2009): 169-75. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2008.11.001

Pope, Malcolm H et al. “Spine ergonomics.” Annual review of Biomedical Engineering vol. 4 (2002): 49-68. doi:10.1146/annurev.bioeng.4.092101.122107

Shaghayegh Fard, B et al. “Evaluation of forward head posture in sitting and standing positions.” The European Spine Journal: official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society vol. 25,11 (2016): 3577-3582. doi:10.1007/s00586-015-4254-x

Tinitali, Sarah, et al. “Sitting Posture During Occupational Driving Causes Low Back Pain; Evidence-Based Position or Dogma? A Systematic Review.” Human Factors vol. 63,1 (2021): 111-123. doi:10.1177/0018720819871730

Wernli, Kevin, et al. “Movement, posture and low back pain. How do they relate? A replicated single-case design in 12 people with persistent, disabling low back pain.” European Journal of Pain (London, England) vol. 24,9 (2020): 1831-1849. doi:10.1002/ejp.1631

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Understanding Why Poor Posture Happens and How To Fix It" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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