Straighten up SWFL

By Dr. Vivian Ebert, Chiropractic Physician –

Figure 1 Reveals: Unlevel shoulders and hands. She bears weight over her right leg and spine – the distance between the ankles should be even. There is a gap between her right side and right arm, but none on the left. Figure 2 Reveals: Forward head posture and forward weight bearing. The white line from the ear should pass through the center of her shoulder and her hips and fall just in front of the ankle. These parts are marked with red dots, and they should all fall on the green line. Her pelvis tilts forward and she looks as if she is standing in a forward falling position.

How many of us remember a parent or a teacher reminding us to stand or sit up straight? It turns out, that was very good advice.

“Strong posture helps your body move more effectively and reduces mechanical stress on your muscles and joints. A weak posture may cause pain in the neck, back, pelvis, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles and feet,” says Dr. Vivian Ebert. In other words, poor posture can affect every area of your body! Living Well Chiropractic offers an innovative approach to good posture, designed to reduce stress and pain on the body and strengthen balance.

Research shows asymmetry of posture is associated with increased pain, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Manual Therapy. This makes sense when you stop to think about it. When you stand or sit crookedly, some muscles become shorter and stronger, while others become weaker and longer. If muscles pull harder on one side of your joints than the other, they produce uneven stress and change the patterns in which your body moves.

Have you ever rubbed your shoulders and noticed that one is tighter than the other? Look in the mirror and see if this is causing you to hold one shoulder higher than the other. Have someone else look at you to see if the ability to turn your head in one direction is limited. You might have found yourself turning your whole body to look for traffic when changing lanes, or worse, only using your mirrors to change lanes because of your limited motion.

Having a strong posture doesn’t just help you look better and stand taller. It actually improves your overall health! According to a 1994 published study in the American Journal of Pain Management, “posture affects and moderates every physiologic function, from breathing to hormone production….Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.”

In addition to contributing to ill health, fatigue, and pain, posture distortions set the stage for premature aging. “Many of my patients are entering their golden years,” says Dr. Ebert, “and they want to maintain their vitality and have the best quality of life possible. Strong posture is a great place to begin.” A strong posture may be a key to prevent falling, which is especially important as we age. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 or older falls. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas. Among people aged 65 or older, falls are the leading cause of injury death, and they are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

Take a look at the One Leg Balance Test and try it for yourself (make sure you are near a wall or a steady chair in case you lose your balance):
1. Stand up straight. Lift up one leg and count to 30.
2. Stop the first time you have to put your foot down
to balance….Don’t cheat!
3. Repeat for the other leg.

CAN’T DO IT? HERE’S WHY: If you can’t balance with control on each leg for 30 seconds, or if you flail your arms to keep from falling, then your balance and your core body strength is weak. According to Richard Estak, Neuropsychiatrist at the George Washington School of Medicine: “The single best exercise that can be done anytime, without any special equipment, is nothing more complicated than standing on one foot for as long as possible and then switching to the other foot.”

You are probably sitting as you read this article. And how you are sitting has most likely not crossed your mind. You are sitting the way you always sit…without thinking about your posture. In the United States, an astounding percentage of us sit at our jobs all day, every day. Even if you are exercising daily and taking frequent work breaks to walk around and stretch, prolonged sitting with weak posture creates imbalance. “You are under-using some muscles and you are stressing other muscles,” says Dr. Ebert

According to OSHA, “Back pain disorders are the leading cause of disability for people in their working years.” Do you ever find yourself slumping, slouching, rolling your shoulders to relieve stress, or kneading your lower back because you are in pain? You could most likely benefit from posture training exercises.

“I would definitely say, a lot of people with low back problems and pain have posture distortions. It makes sense that, if you work on the posture, many of the other problems will begin to resolve much more effectively,” says Dr. Ebert. Experts have estimated that approximately 80% of Americans will experience low back pain in their lifetimes. The statistics are alarming. “I think most people would agree that preventing the pain from recurring is worthwhile,” states Dr. Ebert.

At Living Well Chiropractic, the key to pain prevention is to strengthen posture and restore full motion. In a 2001 study, only 30% of the patients who took part in Posture Exercises reported a recurrence of their low back pain, as opposed to 84% of patients who did not participate in posture exercise. The controlled motion taught in the posture exercise program will target and strengthen the ‘weak links’ in your body, which will relieve pain and help prevent further injury and stress.

Don’t underestimate the importance of core-strengthening posture exercises which you will then practice at home. Dr. Ebert can provide invaluable information on balance, alignment and controlled motion, tailored specifically for each patient. The exercises don’t take a long time to do, they just need to be done consistently. Along with Posture Exercises, Chiropractic and other life habits (such as improved digestion) are also key habits for aging well.

To learn more, contact Living Well
Chiropractic at 239-489-2225,
or visit us at
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