SHIFNAL CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC

Shifnal Chiropractic Clinic

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Good Posture - Great Benefits!

16/03/2015

Ah that good old-fashioned chiropractic rant.  POSTURE!!!  Well, I say chiropractic, but historically everyone from your school teacher to your parents to your physician would have been insistent on good posture.  How strange, therefore, that as a nation our posture is in fact getting worse rather than better.  In part this is thanks to the advent of the computer, and following that technological breakthrough came the mobile phone and the laptop/tablet phenomena.  Not conducive to sitting or standing correctly!

But what comprises ‘good’ posture, and how easy is it to achieve?

There are 3 main areas I focus on when I am teaching my patients about posture – your head and neck, your shoulders and upper back, and your low back and pelvis.  Breaking it down like this means that you could concentrate on getting one area right and ingrained in your mind before worrying about the next area.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s start at the base and work  up.  If someone has more problem with neck pain and headaches than with their low back, I would probably work top to base, but it doesn’t really matter.

Pelvis and low back – here, the main fault is a tendency to stand sway-backed.  We all tend to stand as though heavily pregnant!  The pelvis is tilted right the way forward, the low back excessively arched and the stomach sticks out at the front.  If this is severe, we have to start with stretches and strengthening exercises to correct the muscle imbalance that occurs, but in more minor situations we can jump straight to re-programming the way your body naturally rests.  To do this, stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your knees straight but not locked.  Then, imagine tucking your bum underneath you – pull up and in with your tummy muscles to help with the movement.  This will have the effect of flattening out the curve in your lower back to just the small curve you should maintain, and bringing you into what is termed “pelvis neutral”.  If you struggle with getting this position right, stand with your back against a flat wall, slide your hand behind you into the gap left between the wall and your low back and then try to press your back onto your hand.

Shoulders and upper back – this is possibly the easiest area to position, but it is still difficult to learn how to hold the posture.  All you need to do is draw your shoulders back and down – imagine you are trying to make the lowest point of your shoulder blades meet in the middle of your lower back.  Clearly, you physically can’t achieve this, but if you imagine that movement you’ll find yourself in the correct upper back posture.

Head and neck – the alteration that needs to be made here is one of the smallest, yet most important.  It can also be quite tricky to do well, so if in doubt it’s best to have a professional help you with the initial set-up.  Basically, these days we all tend to walk around with our head held a long way forward of the “neutral” posture we are aiming to achieve.  If you look at anyone from the side, while they look straight ahead, their ear-hole should be in line with the tip of their shoulder.  I can almost guarantee that on most people, it will be at least one inch too far forward, and the strain this puts on your neck and muscles is enormous.  So, the postural correction we are looking for is to simply draw your head back over your neck, to bring your ear-hole in line with your shoulder.  Careful you don’t let your chin jut out as you do this though – you want to maintain your gaze straight ahead.  Sometimes it helps to imagine someone has a fish-hook in the base of your skull from the back, and is pulling you up towards the corner made by the ceiling and the wall of a room.  Have a go, and you’ll feel what I mean!

So, that’s all there is to it!  Work first on getting pelvis neutral, then add in drawing your shoulders back and down while maintaining pelvis neutral.  Finally, holding both those areas where they are, add in your in-line head and neck posture, and you will look confident, slimmer, in control – and most importantly, you won’t be putting unnecessary stress through your body!

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