“Sit up straight.”, “Don’t slouch.”, “Pull your shoulders back.”, you’ve heard them all, I’m sure. Hopefully, as you grew up, you had someone beating these into your brain. Guess what? They were right. At our office, we like to say that your posture is the window to your health. Just think about it–when was the last time you saw someone with horrible posture that also was in perfect health? Go ahead, I’ll wait. Let’s talk about some common altered spinal mechanics and the implications of those changes to the spine.
In the cervical spine, we should have a backwards C-shaped curve, also called a lordotic curve. Now, this curve allows the head to be over the shoulders, which in turn, places the weight of the head over the facet joints of the spine where it belongs. The most common change we see when the cervical spine does not have proper curvature is forward head posture. The cervical spine either straightens or the curve has a reverse direction. Have you ever heard someone say they hold their stress in their shoulders? Well, stress CAN have a physical effect on your body, BUT more than likely, they have bad posture. When the head is in front of the shoulders, the muscles of the upper back and neck have to work extra hard to try to support the weight of the head. This will lead to very tight, tender, fatigued muscles that will not only cause pain in the neck and upper back, but can also cause headaches.
The degenerative changes to the neck due to abnormal weight bearing will include degenerative disc disease, osteophytes (bone spurs), and even foraminal stenosis (narrowing of the holes where the nerves travel after branching off the spinal cord). All of the changes will cause pain and can need surgical intervention if they are severe. The good news is corrective chiropractic like Chiropractic Biophysics can help to reverse these altered mechanics and keep the degenerative changes from becoming severe enough to need surgical intervention.
Another big picture concept is if the shape of the neck changes and the head comes forward, it WILL put tension on the spinal cord! This is not good! Just think about how many organs are below the neck. Almost all of them! The brain controls everything in the body and the only way it can function properly is if the electrical signal from the brain is able to travel down the cord and out to the nerves to make it to its destination. The nerves lead to our organs, muscles, skin, blood vessels, and even our hair and pores.
As you can tell, your spine is extremely important–not only does it house the central nervous system, which controls EVERY part of our body’s functions, but it is also the foundation of our body. Our everyday activities of sitting, looking at our phones, or working at a desk will, over time, affect your spine. It is vital that you have good posture, not just for pain relief but also to ensure your health isn’t being affected by tension on the cord or pressure on the spinal nerves.