As the body gets older, slouching, little to no physical activity, and regular stretching cause muscle fatigue, weakness, tension, leading to poor posture complications. The complications include:
- Back and neck pain
- Rounded shoulders
- Spinal dysfunction
- Joint degeneration
- Sleep problems
- Chronic pain
Posture can be improved along with overall spinal health and a better quality of life through chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic will improve posture through adjustments, postural exercise training and stretching, education on ergonomics, and nutrition to strengthen the body.
Complications Poor Posture
Symptoms vary as they depend on the severity of the case and condition.
- Muscle fatigue/weakness
- Body aches and soreness
- Back pain
- Rounded shoulders
- Standing and/or walking problems
Poor posture leads to dysfunction and interference with the body’s postural mechanisms. These include:
- Slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers
- Muscle strength and length
- Body positioning nervous system feedback.
Skeletal muscle comprises two types of muscle fiber. They are static or slow-twitch muscles and phasic or fast-twitch muscles. Static muscle fibers are found in the deeper muscle layers. Static fibers burn energy slowly and keep working without tiring. They help the body maintain posture without effort and contribute to balance by sensing the body’s position and transmitting the information to the brain. Phasic muscle fibers are used for movement and activity but can quickly run out of energy. Poor posture causes muscle fatigue because the phasic fibers are used rather than the static fibers to maintain the body’s proper position.
Muscle Strength and Length
Over time, the body constantly needs support from the phasic muscle fibers. This causes the deeper supporting muscles to waste away because they are not being used. Weak, unused muscles begin to tighten, causing a shortening of muscle length that can compact the spine’s bones and cause back complications.
Nervous System Feedback
The deeper layers of muscle sense the body’s position in space and relay this information to the brain. The brain does not receive complete transmission if the phasic muscle fibers take over this function. The brain assumes that the body needs to be propped up/corrected to counteract the poor posture effects, triggering further muscle contraction, adding to the fatigue and pain.
Listening To The Body
The objective is to form a habit of regularly listening to what the body is saying. Make minor adjustments while standing and sitting throughout the day/night. Often what happens is individuals become so immersed in their work, school tasks that they ignore any physical discomfort and push through and forget to change positions/move around to get the muscles moving and the blood pumping. If there is muscle tension or fatigue, don’t just work through the pain; move into another healthy position.
- Try to avoid sitting in soft chairs.
- Switch to ergonomic chairs for any activity that requires sitting for long periods.
- Use a lumbar roll to support the lower back when sitting in regular chairs or driving.
- Remember to reverse the curve; an example could be if leaning over a desk/workstation, stretch the back in the other direction.
- Get into stretching exercises to increase muscle flexibility.
- Strength train to improve muscle strength and tone.
- Avoid standing for long periods.
- Use a posture app.
As the body ages, it loses muscle mass, known as sarcopenia. Between the ages of 30 and 80, both men and women can lose 30-50 percent of their muscle strength. Decreasing strength can make it a challenge to lead an active lifestyle or have energy levels to complete the daily errands. Individuals can be reluctant to improve fitness levels through resistance workouts believing there is nothing left after years of inactivity. This is not true as anybody can strength train. With the right mindset, and health coaching team, goals can be set to:
- Improve body composition
- Improve energy levels
- Maintain an active lifestyle
Creze, Maud et al. “Posture-related stiffness mapping of paraspinal muscles.” Journal of anatomy vol. 234,6 (2019): 787-799. doi:10.1111/joa.12978
Deliagina, Tatiana G et al. “Physiological and circuit mechanisms of postural control.” Current opinion in neurobiology vol. 22,4 (2012): 646-52. doi:10.1016/j.conb.2012.03.002
Korakakis, Vasileios et al. “Physiotherapist perceptions of optimal sitting and standing posture.” Musculoskeletal Science & practice vol. 39 (2019): 24-31. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.004
Pollock, A S et al. “What is balance?.” Clinical rehabilitation vol. 14,4 (2000): 402-6. doi:10.1191/0269215500cr342oa
Waters, Thomas R, and Robert B Dick. “Evidence of health risks associated with prolonged standing at work and intervention effectiveness.” Rehabilitation nursing: the official journal of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses vol. 40,3 (2015): 148-65. doi:10.1002/rnj.166
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