Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Good posture integral to our overall well-being

A summary of recent results on posture and injury prevention ...

"The world wasn't designed for tall people, or short ones for that matter. It seems that anyone outside the average range of five-foot-four to five-foot-eight is either reaching or slouching to get their tasks done. These demands on our everyday tasks can lead to permanent and habitual patterns through the body, leading to poor posture.

Posture is an integral part of overall well-being. As my chiropractor says: "Posture is a window in to your health." Postural assessments give clues to the effects of gravity on the body, whether there are bony structural misalignments or muscle imbalance, and what the person’s movement patterns are. Pair the assessment with a lifestyle intake and you begin to paint a picture of how and why the posture is what it is.

Still, some people take the idea of good posture for granted. Standing is a dynamic activity rather than, as some might assume, a static one. There are several basic postural defaults.

A relaxed faulty posture is the least severe, but the most common. You might identify with this category: belly pushed out, shoulders rounded, and essentially you stand an inch or two shorter than you really are. It is a slouch that will lead to future and more severe problems.

While the relaxed posture is the most common, battling for second place is either a hyperkyphosis or hyperlordosis. When the natural convex curve (kyphosis) of the upper back, or the concave curve (lordosis) of the neck and the low back, is excessive, you get lovely postural deformity. And the two usually exist together.

Hyperkyphosis is common in the elderly. As we age, our spinal discs lose some of their suppleness and thickness, meaning wear and tear on the bones. Also, the muscles tend to weaken, and maintaining correct posture becomes more difficult.

People who spend a lot of time in front of a computer without proper ergonomics, or even young students who spend their time between the computer and hunched over books for long hours, can start to develop hyperkyphosis as well.

Ultimately, this is a response to forward head carriage (head starts to jut forward). The body starts to lay down extra bone on the vertebrae of the upper back to help secure the balance.

Hyperlordosis is the opposite, where the curve in the low back is exaggerated and the bum sticks out farther than average. Baby got back! Swayback deformity is a more exaggerated kyphosis in the upper back. It is typically associated with a decrease in the lordosis of the lower back while the whole upper body pulls backward.

Scoliosis is a condition that is best seen from behind. A curvature of the spine, where the S shape runs side to side rather than front to back, is more often congenital, but can manifest later in life. It, like many postural concerns, can be corrected and/or managed, depending on severity."    (Continued via The ChronicleHerald)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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