Improper posture affects the whole body and can lead to various pain issues throughout the body. Correcting posture is recommended before trying to correct it when pain begins to present. If pain is present, chiropractic treatment will bring relief, stabilize the spine, realign/balance the body, and educate the individual on maintaining proper posture through stretches, exercises, physical therapy, and lifestyle adjustments.
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Improper posture symptoms
Discomfort, stiffness, tightness, and pain are common when sitting at a workstation. This comes from a forward head/head jutting position. The head pushes forward and is not aligned with the shoulders. This means that the neck takes on a compromised position. The head forward position places significant strain on the neck muscles. Because of this, neck discomfort and pain often occur later in the afternoon and evening. If not sure whether head jutting is taking place, try placing the chin on the chest. If not able or if there is discomfort/pain in the upper back, there is some forward head jutting.
Shoulder Discomfort and Pain
When we sit for extended periods, the body relaxes muscles that would normally be used if standing. One set of muscles is in the upper back. This causes slouching with a rounded upper back/shoulders. The more time the body stays in any position, the more it begins to conform to the unhealthy position. This also causes pain in the upper front part of the shoulders. The pain is noticeable when trying to bring the arm/s overhead or when trying to perform exercises like pushups or pullups.
Regular headaches are another symptom of improper posture. Forward head posture is usually a contributor combined with the long hours sitting or standing. However, headaches can be caused by a variety of causes that, include:
Low Back, Tailbone Discomfort, and Pain
Lower back pain is a very common symptom of improper posture. For individuals under 40, pain and discomfort are present because of improper posture while sitting or standing and a lack of stretching and exercise. Sitting for a long time causes the muscles that bring the thighs towards the chest, known as the hip flexors, to be consistently flexed with no relief. This causes the hip flexors to shorten and tighten. This pulls the pelvis towards the front of the body, creating an exaggerated spinal curve.
Buttocks or Stomach Pushes Outward
Take a look at the body’s profile, does the butt and/or stomach stick out? If so, this could be hyperlordosis, also known as Donald duck posture. This can come from wearing high heels too much, the body having to carry extra weight in the stomach area, and sometimes this comes from pregnancy. Sometimes, this happens when individuals stand with their knees locked. This causes the rear end and/or belly to push out.
Correcting Improper Posture
The main problem with correcting posture is the ability to maintain proper posture. Many individuals go back to the unhealthy positioning without recognizing that they are doing it. There are devices to help correct poor posture habits. This could be a brace or harness that detects when the body slouches and vibrates to let the individual return to a proper position.
Chiropractic Care and Physical Therapy
The most effective and thorough way to correct years of improper posture is to see a professional chiropractor. A complete diagnosis, inspection, and analysis of an individual’s posture when sitting, standing, walking, and running will be done. They will educate the individual on correct posture and achieving and maintaining it. If pain is present, the chiropractor will take steps to correct any subluxations and misalignments, and develop a personalized treatment plan, to heal the body first. Treatment modalities can include:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Physical therapy
- Heat therapy
- TENS device
- Health Coaching
- Nutritional advice
Once the body has healed and is moving freely, the doctor recommends exercises and stretching programs at home. This will improve and help maintain proper posture. An experienced musculoskeletal professional will keep the body balanced and prevent further injuries.
Hydrating the body with water or a sports drink
Many individuals prefer drinking sports drinks during and after physical activities, sports, and exercise. Many are opposed to water because of the lack of taste, while sports drinks have taste and added electrolytes. But many sports drinks have added ingredients and sugars. This makes them not the best choice for individuals trying to lose calories. Take a look at some of the additional ingredients:
Minerals, like potassium, sodium, and magnesium, have an electric charge that helps maintain the body’s ionic balance. The body loses electrolytes when sweating. A sports drink can help replace the lost electrolytes.
Most carbohydrates come from sugars. Carbohydrates are one of the body’s energy sources, and sports drinks are designed to refuel the body after hard physical activity.
These are protein building blocks. Drinking a sports drink after an intense workout can help the body recover quicker. Therefore, some of the additional ingredients in sports drinks offer hydration extras that water on its own cannot. However, water should always be the first drink of choice. But there are certain times when a sports drink is what the body needs.
- When participating in high-intensity physical activities, workouts, and sports that last longer than 45 minutes to an hour. Here sports drinks can help replenish the body’s electrolytes better than water.
- Individuals who sweat high levels of sodium (look for sweat stains/rings on skin or clothing) can benefit from rehydrating with a sports drink.
- Endurance athletes, triathletes, marathon runners, long-distance athletes, etc., can also benefit from a sports drink from the increased fluid loss.
- In these activities, athletes should make sure the sports drink they are consuming contains carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Hao, Ning et al. “Enhancing creativity: Proper body posture meets proper emotion.” Acta Psychologica vol. 173 (2017): 32-40. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.12.005
Jaromi, Melinda, et al. “Treatment and ergonomics training of work-related lower back pain and body posture problems for nurses.” Journal of clinical nursing vol. 21,11-12 (2012): 1776-84. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04089.x
O’Connor B. Sitting Disease: The New Health Epidemic. The Chopra Center Web site. www.chopra.com/articles/sitting-disease-the-new-health-epidemic. Accessed January 7, 2017.
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