Why posture matters

To most people, “good posture” simply means sitting and standing up straight. Few of us realize the importance of posture to our health and performance. The human body craves alignment. When we are properly aligned, our bones, not our muscles, support our weight, reducing effort and strain.  Bad posture puts stress on the head, neck, low back and spinal cord.

The better we stand, the better we feel.  We feel healthier, have more energy, and move gracefully. So while the word “posture” may conjure up images of book-balancing charm-school girls, it is not just about standing up straight. It’s about being aware of and connected to every part of your self.

Posture  is as important as eating right, exercising, getting proper rest and avoiding potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. Without good posture, you cannot really be physically fit because our muscles are not working properly so we only get minimum results each time we work out.  Without good posture, you can actually damage your spine every time you exercise and create Osteoarthritis due to lack of proper movement.

Ideally, our bones stack up one upon the other: the head rests directly on top of the spine, which sits directly over the pelvis, which sits directly over the knees and ankles. But if you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, if you hunch forward or balance your weight primarily on one leg, the muscles of your neck and back have to carry the weight of the body rather than it being supported by the spine. The resulting tension and joint pressure can affect you not only physically, but emotionally, too, — from the predictable shoulder and back pain to headaches, short attention span, and depression.

Poor posture distorts the alignment of bones, chronically tenses muscles, and contributes to stressful conditions such as loss of vital lung capacity, increased fatigue, reduced blood and oxygen to the brain, limited range of motion, stiffness of joints, pain syndromes, reduced mental alertness, and decreased productivity at work. According to the Nobel Laureate Dr. Roger Sperry, “the more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism, and healing.”

The most immediate problem with poor posture is that it creates a lot of chronic muscle tension as the weight of the head and upper body must be supported by the muscles instead of the bones. This effect becomes more pronounced the further your posture deviates from your body’s center of balance and the longer you have been misaligned.

To illustrate this idea further, think about carrying a briefcase or heavy box. If you had to carry a this with your arms outstretched in front of you, it would not take long before the muscles of your shoulders would be completely exhausted. This is because carrying the briefcase far away from your center of balance places undue stress on your shoulder muscles. If you held the same briefcase down at your side, your muscles would not fatigue as quickly, because the briefcase is closer to your center of balance and therefore the weight is supported by the bones of the skeleton, rather than the muscles.  Now think of what happens when your neck is pushed out forward from your body or your head is looking down for long periods of time.

In some parts of the world, women can carry big pots full of water from distant water sources back to their homes. They are able to carry these heavy pots a long distance without significant effort because they balance them on the top of their heads, thereby carrying them at their center of balance and allowing the strength of their skeleton to bear the weight, rather than their muscles.

Correcting bad posture and the physical problems that result can be accomplished in two ways. The first is by eliminating as much “bad” stress from your body as possible. Bad stress includes all the factors, habits, or stressors that cause your body to deviate from your structural center. Bad stress can result from a poorly adjusted workstation at work, from not having your seat adjusted correctly in your car, or even from carrying too much weight around in a heavy purse or backpack.

The second is by applying “good” stress on the body in an effort to move your posture back toward your center of balance. This is accomplished through a series of exercises, stretches, adjustments, and changes to your physical environment, all designed to help correct your posture. Getting your body back to its center of balance by improving your posture is critically important to improving how you feel.

Tips To Help You And Your Personal Trainer Get Results!

Personal Trainers help you with your weight loss and workout goals but do you know some of the things that can hold you back as far as connecting with your trainer?

Here are some tips on how what NOT TO DO to get the most out of yourself with your trainer.

What you DON”T want to do:
1. Withhold Health Information: Do you have any injuries? Anything bothering you? Does it hurt you to be in a certain position? These are all important for your trainer to know even if your doctor has cleared you for exercise. This can help your trainer modify any exercise program they have in mind for you. Are you on medications? Medications can affect your heart rate so it is good to know what you are taking.

2. Don’t Complain: Complaining doesn’t make it any easier and it can keep the energy down which is not what you want. Your workout is not going to be easy…that is why you are paying someone to motivate you. They are there for you and want the experience to be invigorating and fun, not a downer. You won’t feel good about your workout and neither will they.

3. Making Excuses: Many people are busy and have trouble fitting in exercise. But once you commit to working out with a trainer, refrain from making excuses for missing a workout or overeating. They know it is hard to eat well and make time for exercise but they do and so do their other clients. Excuses have gotten you where you are and you took the steps to be healthy, now it is time to do it and make it work.

Don’t Lie: Personal trainers modify their plans based on your progress. If you are not eating the foods you say you are or doing the things you say, it can confuse them and make it hard for you to get results.

5. Talking Too Much (Or Not Enough): Communication is always key with anything but too little or too much can alter your workout. They need to know what is going on with you but talking about your social life the whole time or gossiping is not always beneficial for a workout. Everyone likes to talk about themselves but make sure you have time to talk about your health so they know you are still set with your goals. Some trainers can get frustrated that you need to keep being redirected back to working out.

6. Not Following Your Plan: Plans are specifically made for you.Changing the plan can put a damper on your results. Trainers are not expecting you to do more or less than what they have put out for you. Do what they have told you and if you are frustrated with the results, let them know.

7. Wearing Overly Baggy Clothes: Form is very important with working out so wearing clothes that restrict the eye from making posture advice, it can lead to an injury which is not what you want when you are trying to follow an exercise plan.

Get the most out of your exercise plan and help your trainer help you!

Can a 72 Year Old Be Helped Naturally When He Has Several Health Complaints?

The following study is following changes in a 72 year old male who presented for chiropractic care suffering from multiple health complaints.

A 72 year old New Zealand male visited a chiropractic practice in Auckland, New Zealand suffering from severe postural alterations, mild depression, low back pain, balance disturbances, perpetual tiredness and mild depression.  He wanted help naturally without the use of drugs or surgery.

Interventions and Outcomes: Over a nine week period, a specific and conservative chiropractic care plan was provided to the patient. The care plan included adjustments and the frequency of care was altered throughout this period based on both subjective and objective measures. A complete health history and physical examination was performed before care was administered.  Posture and surface electromyography (sEMG) scans were performed and were then monitored regularly over the nine week period.  Patient testimony of health progress were also monitored during each adjustment visit. Significant improvements were noted in postural and sEMG findings as well as in subjective measures of health over the 9 week period.
While under chiropractic care, improvements in both self-reported and doctor’s analysis were noted in a patient with severe postural alterations, low back pain, balance disturbances, perpetual tiredness and a mildly depressive state of mind. These improvements include overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being of the patient.

Who says a 72 year old can’t be fully healthy?

References: Bredin, M, Putt, K. L.. (2015). Improvements in posture, mood, and balance in an older patient receiving chiropractic care: A case report.
Ann Vert Sublux Res – May 21, 2014: 125-9

How Do Wellness Programs Help Companies Save On Health Costs?

In a story published to a March 11, 2002 issue of the American Medical News. This story reports on several studies and programs where corporate wellness programs are having a positive effect on reducing health care costs on their employees. “There’s a growing body of data indicating that corporate wellness programs lower medical costs for employees”, said Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, vice president of consulting and applied research for the Medstat Group, a health care research firm in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A survey done by Medstat, published in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Occupational Medicine, concluded that medical claims costs for Johnson & Johnson Inc. employees dropped an average of $225 per year after the company started its wellness program in 1995. Additionally, Goetzel reported that a literature review of corporate wellness studies published in the May/June 2001 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion concluded that medical costs dropped for employees in the wellness program for 28 out of 32 of the corporate wellness programs reviewed.

The report claims that about 90% of Johnson & Johnson employees participate in the corporate wellness program. Their program consists of free health risk assessments and physicals. Additionally employees can then join free weight management, smoking cessation or nutrition classes and can use on-site fitness centers. John McKeegan, a Johnson & Johnson spokesman stated that the savings in reduced medical claims total about $5 million a year. When you factor in administrative savings from combining various health services into one program, McKeegan estimates the savings come to about $8.5 million a year.

The Wellness Councils of America, a coalition representing 3,000 corporate wellness programs, estimated that presently 80% to 90% of large U.S. corporations offer some sort of wellness program.

Our Redwood City Chiropractic office is in the heart of the high tech area and see many patients who work in Silicon Valley.  One problem they have is postural issues stemming from working on laptops, smart phones and sitting at a desk for long periods of time.  We help these individuals with alignment, proper ergonomics and postural exercises.  If you are in the Redwood City area, give us a call.  Even if you don’t have symptoms, getting checked to see if lifestyle changes need to be made preventing any issues that may be on the horizon.

References: http://www.chiropracticresearch.org/

Some Jobs Are More At Risk For Back Problems

An article from the October 7, 2006 BBC News in the United Kingdom reports on a survey study listing the 5 top jobs most likely to cause back issues among workers in the United Kingdom. The list, compiled and published by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has some surprising findings. The study conducted by the BCA surveyed 2,374 people, found that 59% of the working population, in the top category at risk for back problems, sit down all day. Many of these people do not leave their desks even for a lunch break. This sedentary lifestyle coupled with positioning and long hours puts office workers at a higher risk than the excessive lifting and carrying done by those employed in manual jobs. The top five list as released by the British Chiropractic Association is as follows:

1. Office Worker – Long periods of time sitting in awkward positions, often slouched over computer keyboards, or maybe sitting at chairs not properly adjusted for their needs.

2. Nurse – Long shifts, often on their feet all day as well as lifting and carrying.

3. Driver – Hours a day spent at the wheel, sitting in a poor position, along with limited movement.

4. Laborer – Repeated strain from lifting heavy weights and often twisting in awkward positions.

5. Teacher & Nursery Staff – Continuously bending down to a child’s height and lifting children can cause back problems Dr. Tim Hutchful speaking for the BCA comments: “This survey has highlighted what we chiropractors have known for some time. Lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle is taking its toll. It is assumed that those most at risk from back pain are the ones who have very physical jobs however, as this research has unveiled, whilst lifting and carrying are still common triggers for back pain, it is those with less physically demanding jobs and who are often seated for the majority of the day that could be most prone to back problems.”

According to the BCA, one third of UK citizens will suffer from some sort of back problem. Dr. Hutchful added: “For many who work in an office environment, it is the day-to-day, mundane routines that are at the root of most back problems. Hunching over computer keyboards and cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder can all contribute to lower back and neck stiffness, not to mention the fact that many office workers sit for hours at a time with very little movement.”

References: www.chiropracticresearch.org

Sitting For Long Hours Per Day Takes Years Off Your Life

Can someone exercise and still be a couch potato? That peculiarly modern question motivated a new study from Finland in which a group of healthy, physically active volunteers donned special shorts that measure muscular activity in the legs. The volunteers then went about their daily lives.

All were diligent exercisers. Some ran. Others lifted weights or played soccer. A few Nordic-walked. On one day during the study, they worked out as usual. On another, they did not exercise.

Throughout, the shorts measured how much they actually moved.

A growing body of science suggests that prolonged inactivity, a practice known more familiarly as sitting a lot, is both widespread and unhealthy. In a representative study published last month in The Archives of Internal Medicine, Australian researchers compared medical records and lifestyle questionnaires for more than 220,0000 Australian adults 45 and older.

They found that the more hours the men and women sat every day, the greater their chance of dying prematurely. Those people who sat more than eight hours a day — which other studies have found is about the amount that a typical American sits — had a 15 percent greater risk of dying during the study’s three-year follow-up period than people who sat for fewer than four hours a day.

That increased risk held true in the Australian study even if the people sitting eight hours a day spent at least part of that day exercising.

But that study and many others examining sitting and health have relied on self-reported measures of physical activity, like questionnaires. A few have used accelerometers to determine how many steps people were taking during the day.

No one, though, had directly studied people’s muscular activity during sitting and exercising, outside the artificial environment of an exercise physiology lab, until the Finnish researchers came up with the idea of embedding flexible electrodes into shorts fabric.

Measurement of muscle activity matters. In earlier studies with animals whose legs were immobilized with casts or traction devices, physiologists noticed swift, dramatic and deleterious changes in the levels of certain enzymes in cells throughout the animals’ bodies that affect fat metabolism and blood sugar regulation. The researchers concluded that the lack of muscular contractions in the animals’ legs had caused a chain of biological reactions that led to the alterations in enzyme production.

In the current Finnish study, after volunteers donned the shorts, the electrodes began constantly tracking contractile activity in the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, two of the largest sets of muscles in the body. The volunteers also completed detailed logs about their activities during the days of the study.

The researchers had hypothesized that they would see considerably less muscular inactivity over all on the days the volunteers exercised, says Taija Juutinen Finni, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, who led the study.

But the results did not turn out that way. There was, in fact, virtually no difference in how much time people spent being couch potatoes on the days when they exercised compared with days when they did not. On nonexercise days, about 72 percent of volunteers’ waking time, or about nine hours, was spent sitting.

When they formally exercised, volunteers used about 13 percent more energy over all than on days they didn’t exercise. But they still sat 68 percent of the time.

Surprisingly, how much people exercised or what kind of exercise they chose did not change sitting time. Whether volunteers worked out for less than an hour or for more than 90 minutes, they spent an equivalent amount of time the rest of the day being mostly torpid physically.

It seems that after exercising, the study authors concluded, people “substitute either lighter and/or sedentary activities.”

David W. Dunstan, a professor at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, who has studied inactivity and wrote an editorial to accompany the new Australian paper, says he found the study fascinating. By measuring muscular inactivity using electromyography, he says, “the measurement is getting closer to the heart of the sitting problem, that being a problem of muscular disuse.”

Dr. Finni agrees. Although she and her colleagues did not look directly at the downstream biochemical effects of the inactivity, she says, their results suggest that normal exercise, which fills so few hours of even active people’s days, “may not be enough in terms of health.”

Of course, exercise remains valuable, she and Dr. Dunstan are both quick to add. It reduces risks for cardiovascular disease and other conditions and burns calories.

But exercise paired with otherwise unalloyed sitting should be avoided, Dr. Dunstan says. “It is important the general public become more conscious about what they do in their nonexercise time,” he says. Almost everybody, he says, “should look for opportunities to reduce their daily sitting time and move more, more often, throughout the day.”

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS, Columnist
NYTimes

Good Posture Is Important

Why is posture so important?

Posture is as important as eating a healthy diet, sleeping 7-9 hours a day, avoiding harmful substances like drugs, alcohol and tobacco.  Keeping good posture means that your bones, joints, ligaments are working the way that they should.  It also means that there is no pulling or tugging on your organs so they can function properly.  It also contributes to normal function of your nervous system.

When posture is bad, your health and function are compromised.  Long term effects may effect your digestion, breathing, muscles, joints and ligaments.  It can also effect your bodies ability to release toxins in your body.  We can avoid these problems caused by bad posture and  The good news is that most everyone can avoid problems caused by bad posture and it doesn’t matter how old you are, improvements can happen and you can get great results!

How Does it Happen?

Often, poor posture develops as a result of an accident or fall. In the majority of cases, it develops from environmental factors or bad habits. This means that you have control and can avoid getting symptoms.
In most cases, poor posture results from a combination of several factors, which can include:
1. Accidents, injuries and falls
2. Poor sleep support (mattress)
3. Excessive weight
4. Visual or emotional difficulties
5. Foot problems or improper shoes
6. Weak muscles, muscle imbalance
7. Careless sitting, standing, sleeping habits
8. Negative self image
9. Occupational stress
10. Poorly designed work space

Poor Posture & Pain – A lifetime of poor posture can start a progression of symptoms in the average adult. It can start with:

1. Fatigue – Your muscles have to work hard just to hold you up if you have poor posture. You waste energy just moving, leaving you without the extra energy you need to feel good.

2. Tight, achy muscles in the neck, back, arms and legs – By this stage, there may be a change in your muscles and ligaments and you may have a stiff, tight painful feeling. More than 80% of the neck and back problems are the result of tight, achy muscles brought on by years of bad posture.

3. Joint stiffness and pain – At risk for “wear and tear” arthritis, or what is termed degenerative osteoarthritis. Poor posture and limited mobility increase the likelihood of this condition in later years.

What are some common symptoms of poor posture?

Headaches, neck pain, arthritis, muscle strain, muscle spasms, pinched nerves, disc injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, TMJ, fibromyalgia, fatigue, numbness or tingling in hands/legs, and low back pain.

From the ICA web page. For more information write to: International Chiropractors Association, 1110 N. Glebe Road, Suite 1000, Arlington, VA 22201 (703) 528-5000.