Good posture means good health. Five posture principles for good health
1st Posture Principle
Good posture means good health and good balance. If you don’t balance, you fall down! Our bodies would fall forward without muscles pulling us back. We use our muscles reflexively to balance when we sit, stand, sleep, or work. In order for us to balance, our brain integrates information from three sources to know where the body is in space.
- The eyes: We see what is level.
- The ears: The inner ear tells the brain where each ear is in relation to the other ear.
- The muscles and joints: We feel balanced (or unbalanced) based upon information sent from the muscles and joints. The brain assumes we are balanced when we sense equal stress on both sides of the body.
When there is an injury, the body will move differently to avoid pain. Over time, the body will adapt. Even if there is no continued pain, unbalanced patterns of motion persist. The human body still MUST balance to stand. So, the brain adapts and adopts new muscle and joint positions.
We believe we are standing straight because our brain is being told by our senses that we are balanced, even though the mirror shows we are not.
2nd Posture Principle
It is much easier to walk for 30 minutes than to stand perfectly still for 30 minutes. When we walk (or run) we must balance our bodies. In order to balance we switch back and forth between standing and shifting muscles.
- Standing muscles are the muscles we use to hold the body up. Our body would fall forward without muscles pulling us back and keeping us balanced. Whether we are standing or sitting we use standing muscles to balance.
- Shifting muscles are the muscles we use to change (or shift position). Standing and shifting muscles work together to balance the body in motion.
During walking, we use:
STANDING muscles to stand on one foot, and then
SHIFTING muscles to shift to the other foot.
Standing or sitting still primarily works the standing muscles, causing these muscles to fatigue with time. However, when we walk we alternate between using standing and shifting muscles. This allows each set of muscles a moment of rest, reducing fatigue.
3rd Posture Principle
Good posture means good health for your bones, ligaments, muscles and nerves. Posture, Motion, & Balance Depend on the Bones, Ligaments, Muscles, & Nerves
- Bones support the body’s structure. Bones connect to other bones at the joints.
- Ligaments connect the bones at joints.
- Muscles move bones at the joints when they shorten (or contract).
Muscles can only pull, like a rope, to create motion in a direction. A muscle creating motion in a direction is called the AGONIST. Every muscle has an opposite partner that pulls the joint in the opposite direction and returns the joint to its starting position. This opposing muscle is the ANTAGONIST.
To lengthen, or push, a muscle must be pulled longer by its partner’s contraction. Each muscle in a pair of muscles pulls a joint in the opposite direction.
Note: If one muscle in a pair is used more and one is used less, then the underused muscle weakens and the over used muscles become overly strong and tight.
There are also muscles called SYNERGISTS, which help out a motion, but are not the main mover. A synergist, or helper muscle, assists the main muscle in moving the joint. For example, the forearm muscles mostly control the wrist and hand, but they also help the elbow to bend.
Lastly, there are STABILIZERS. These are muscles that hold other joints. When you bend your arm to lift a gallon of milk, your bicep is the main, or agonist, muscle, but the shoulder muscles have to keep the shoulder still as well.
Summary: The agonist is the main muscle which bends the joint, the opposing antagonist muscle straightens the joint, the synergist helper muscles lend a hand, and the stabilizers keep it all steady. Nerves control the muscles with messages from the brain. The body moves in patterns. Muscles work in specific patterns to control how motion occurs. However, the brain thinks in terms of whole motions, not specific muscles.
4th Posture Principle
Good posture means god health. Bad posture leads to pain. Pain teaches the body to move differently. If it hurts to move, the body will adapt and move in a way to avoid pain.
The body moves in Patterns of Motion which adapt to each individual’s body type, history of injuries & daily habits.
- LIGAMENTS stretch in the direction they are stretched.
- MUSCLES that are used get stronger in the way they are used. Unused muscles get weaker.
- NERVES develop muscle memory, reinforcing a pattern of motion.
Posture and body motion depend on an interdependent chain of muscles, bones and joints. In this chain, body motion follows the path of least resistance. The most flexible (or least restricted) joint moves first. The least flexible (or tightest) joint moves last. Because the tightest link in a chain is the last to move, it limits motion the most. The muscles, bones, and ligaments integrate to control body motion.
The body’s motion patterns are like a folded piece of paper that continues to fold at a crease because the fibers have been bent in a pattern. Similarly, the muscles, ligaments and nerves change as they adapt to moving the body in a pattern of motion. Strong muscles lift more. Weak ligaments stretch more. The body posture adapts, creating a postural change, or distortion. Distortions are seen when looking at:
- Posture: How people stand
- Gait: How people walk
Over time, adaptive patterns of body motion cause increased body stress and breakdown.
Bad posture leads to INJURIES
When injuries occur, pain and discomfort often will follow. The body adapts as an individual adjusts how they move so as not to irritate the pain. We then compensate for weak muscles by learning to substitute new motion patterns. Unfortunately, this increases joint stress and strain. Thus begins the pain cycle:
“It hurts when I move like that, but I feel okay if I move like this.”
The pain goes away, but the changed pattern of motion doesn’t.
Bad posture HABITS
Our habits are what we do. Practice makes permanent. Muscles strengthen with use (and weaken when neglected), the body changes with what we habitually do.
- If you sleep on your stomach with your head turned to the right, when standing you will find you head does not turn as easily to the left.
- When you prop a phone under your neck while talking on the phone your neck twists to that side.
- When driving or sitting in front of a computer, day after day, the body folds forward in a slump.
Our good and bad habits shape our bodies, our posture, and our patterns of motion. We adapt to doing whatever we do repeatedly.
5th Posture Principle
The Body Will Adapt To Posture & Motion Changes
Over time, the stress of unbalanced adaptive posture and motion results in muscle imbalance and joint wear. This begins a vicious cycle of unbalanced motion – causing breakdown – causing more unbalanced motion.
Chronic poor posture results in posture adaptation and constant muscle and joint stress. Poor posture and excessive sitting over-strengthens the over-used Standing muscles and weakens the underused Shifting muscles. Because the body must balance, and because loose joint moves before a stiff joint, the chain of the body’s motion follows the path of least resistance. This is why, over time, posture worsens and body stress increases as the body gets better at moving with adaptive posture & body motion patterns. Poor posture and motion patterns cause muscle imbalance, joint stress and more poor motion.
Changes in posture & motion cause real physical change and breakdown in the body. Muscles become chronically tight. Ligaments stretch. Joints wear. Ultimately, the chronic muscle spasm, joint damage (arthritis/DJD) and recurring injuries result from years of constant muscle and joint stress.
For more information on improving your posture go to Chiro-Health’s, Inc You tube channel ball exercises and foam roller exercises. For questions or phone consultations you can e-mail Dr. Amelia Mazgaloff or call Chiro-Health, Inc at (415) 546-1461 or visit http://www.chirohealthsf.com/services/.
Stay up to date on the latest treatments that chiropractic can offer and the latest deals at Chiro-Health, Inc, your San Francisco chiropractor by remembering to Like Chiro-Health’s, Inc Facebook Page.
Like always, choose chiropractic first before surgery and medication!