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Get it straight! Good Posture: Something your mom nagged you about or a health benefit? 3 reasons posture is important to your health


By Jessica Kelner, D.O. - January 14, 2019

Is good posture just something your mom nagged you about or is it actually a health benefit?

Are your shoulders rounding forward? Do you find it hard to sit up straight? You may already know your posture isn’t straight, but is it that big of a deal? It sure is!

Here are 3 reasons why your posture is important to your heath.

1. Poor posture = poor breathing. Slouching compresses your chest cavity. When your chest cavity gets compressed, the lungs can not fully expand when you breathe. This means that you will not get adequate oxygen in your body with each breath. Your diaphragm (the muscle that helps your breath) will also not be able to move properly.  This muscle can start to hurt after awhile.  The diaphragm's movement is actually essential to keeping your organs in your abdomen and your lymphatic system (waste collection system) functioning properly. You may not know this, but your diaphragm is one of the lymphatic pumps in the body, assisting in get rid of the waste your body builds up. 

2.  Poor posture will inevitably lead to other musculoskeletal problems. This is multifactorial.  You may be thinking, “Well yea my back is going to hurt”. The impact on your body is beyond just pain in your back.   The human body is incredible. The delicate balance of the human body's design is for each muscle to have a counter force and for each curve to have a curve that puts forces in the opposite direction.  This balance ensures the body is best able to give the person the optimum strength and motion needed to perform activities and to absorb forces from the outside world such as gravity.  When your posture is not balanced, it puts more pressure on certain parts of the vertebrae, putting you at risk for damaging ligaments and discs in your back and neck.  Your neck may feel strained and painful.  Poor posture can also cause imbalances of muscles in your arms and legs too. As your shoulders curve forward, the muscles in the front of the body have to work harder than the muscles in the back of the body.  The front muscles will become tight, while the back muscles become strained.  If you add activity and stress on those muscles, over time, this can lead to injury and pain.   The longer your posture is imbalanced, the the more changes you will see and feel in the body over time.  

3. Poor posture leads to poor digestion. When your posture is slouched this creates a two fold reason why your digestion will suffer. By default, your head and neck will adjust so your eyes can see, so your body will try to pull those backward enough for you to see. Imagine the hunched over posture, if you don't extend your neck backward, you'd be staring at the ground.  That just doesn't work.  So, you will naturally tilt your head backward to see.  This movement and positioning puts pressure at the base of your head. There is a very important nerve exiting the base of your skull that assists with digestion called the "vagus nerve".  The backward tilting of your head in this position can compress this nerve.  The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system and is its function is essential to have proper digestion. Slouching will also compress the nerves that are innervating the organs  involved in digestion in the thoracic spine. This will subsequently affect organ functioning and lead to poor digestion as well. 

Why does all this digestion stuff matter so much? We rely on the process of digestion to extract nutrients from the food that we eat, in addition to taking away the byproducts of things we can’t digest and excreting them.  Without proper digestion, you will become deficient of many nutrients, you may start to experience symptoms of fatigue, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. This doesn't sound pleasant. 

Long story short, having proper posture is essential for living a healthy life.

How can you correct your imbalanced posture?  This can be done in many ways.  Physical Therapists and Muscle Activation Therapists can help. If your posture has been out of balance for a long time, there may be injuries that need to be treated in order for your posture to be corrected.   At FORM Medical, we can help you get your posture straight. Check out our website at FORM-medical.com or call us today at 720-370-9559.