Tips to Maintain Good Posture

skelton posture

What is posture? 

Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down.  Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.  Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground.  Normally, we do not consciously maintain normal posture.  Instead, certain muscles do it for us, and we don’t even have to think about it.  Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are critically important in maintaining good posture.  While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning properly, prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over.  Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.

Why is good posture important?

Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.  Correct posture:

  • Helps keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
  • Reduces the stress on ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
  • Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
  • Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.

In order to maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine.  You must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and correct them, if necessary.

Poor posture

Several factors contribute to poor posture.  Most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes.  Additionally, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.

 Sitting properly

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs.  Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support you low and mid back.
  • Relax your shoulder and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Standing properly

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
  • Tuck your stomach in.
  • Keep your head level.  Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders.
  • Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other if you have to stand for a long time.

Lying in proper position

  • Sleep with a pillow.  Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position. 
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain.
  • If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
  • If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.

 Correcting poor posture

Typically, long-standing postural problems will take longer to address than short-lived ones.  Often, the joints have adapted to poor posture.  Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you correct yourself.  With practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting and lying down will gradually replace your old posture.  This will help you move toward a healthier body position.

Chiropractors can assist you with proper posture, including recommending exercises to strengthen your core postural muscles.  Schedule your appointment today and we will help get your body into proper alignment!  802-655-0354.

Reference:  American Chiropractic Association, Lawrence H. Hywatt, DC, DACBR, FICC, Professor, Div of Clinical Sciences, Texas Chiropractic College, June 2006.

 

Living With Osteoarthritis

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Living with Osteoarthritis  

Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, affects more than 20 million Americans.  The disease affects the cartilage on the ends of the bones.  With osteoarthritis, the cartilage is broken down and eventually wears away.  As a result, instead of gliding, bones rub against each other causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion.  Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape.  Also, small deposits of bone called osteophytes or bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space causing increased pain and damage.

80% of people over the age of 50 have osteoarthritic joint changes.  Family history of OA, being overweight, lack of exercise, and prior joint injuries are risk factors.  Not all osteoarthritis is inevitable, however.  Perfectly normal cartilage may wear unevenly when a joint is misaligned.  

Signs of osteoarthritis include:

  • Steady or intermittent joint pain
  • Joint stiffness after sitting, sleeping, or otherwise not moving for a long time.
  • Swelling or tenderness in the joints
  •  A crunching feeling or the sound of bones rubbing against each other.

Exercise is one of the best forms of OA treatment and prevention.  It strengthens muscular support around the joints and improves and maintains joint mobility and function.  Low-impact activities such as walking and light weight training work best for OA patients.  Stair climbing, water aerobics, and Theraband workouts help to keep the joints mobile without straining them.

Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been reported to improve the symptoms of people with osteoarthritis, as have certain vitamins. Clinical trials have shown that the use of  glucosamine sulfate 1,500mg daily in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee results in a significant reduction in joint pain and an improvement in joint function. In addition, glucosamine appears to reduce the loss of cartilage in the knee joint over at least a three-year period, particularly in those with milder osteoarthritis. 

Chiropractic adjustments can help restore normal joint function and prevent unnecessary wear.  Research shows chiropractic spinal manipulation increases range of motion, restores normal movement of the spine, relaxes muscles, and reduces pain.  This makes chiropractic an effective treatment for osteoarthritis.  See if chiropractic treatment may be helpful for you.  Call the office today to keep your joints moving smoothly!  802-655-0354