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How bad is BAD posture? 

 February 14, 2010

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

We were all told as children to sit up straight right?  As annoying as it was, it was good advice.  Postural changes from bad habits can cause health problems.  Forward head posture is one of the leading causes of pain in the neck and shoulders.  Chronic pain syndromes like headaches, TMJ, fibromyalgia and arthritis can develop if abnormal body position sets in for years at a time.

Research now shows that bad posture not only causes pain, but it can effect organ systems.  Those systems are the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems.  There is also research that demonstrates that the amount of “slump” one has is directly correlated to earlier death.  Wow.

Chiropractic adjustments are very effective in correcting subluxations which are a cause of postural changes.  However, it could be the case that poor posture or lifestyle could what actually causes subluxations.  It is recommended that everyone, no matter their age, be analyzed for the presence of subluxations.

How do you test of bad posture?
1.  Look in a mirror.  Ears, shoulders and hips should each line up horizontally from left to right.
2.  Stand with your back and buttocks against a wall.  Place your feet approximately six inches from the wall.  Does your head easily rest against the wall?  if is doesn’t, you have forward head posture.
3.  Lie down on your back on a hard surface.  With your head on the floor, you should be looking straight up to the ceiling.  If you feel your head tilt backward, or aren’t looking straight above you, chances are that your upper back curve is the cause of your faulty posture.

What will I feel?
Poor posture certainly doesn’t have to cause pain, which is why the above tests are useful.  But most often fatigue is the first symptom.  Later comes the tension, tightness, pain, and tender muscles.  Remember, whenever the position of your body moves away from its center of gravity, your joints are taken out of their normal, stress-free positions.  Then the abnormal wear and tear starts.  Over time cartilage degeneration, nerve pressure or irritation, and decreased flexibility will occur.  Pain is usually the last symptom to appear.  The most common symptoms at this advanced stage are:
– Muscle pain and tightness
– Nerve pain traveling down the arm or leg
– Joint pain and restriction
– Ligament or tendon pain

How do you improve posture?

1. Be aware.  Practice awareness of your posture.
2. Take regular breaks from sitting at a computer.
3. Check the ergonomics of your workstation.
4. Use a proper pillow.  Don’t sleep on your stomach.  If you sleep on your back, you need VERY little thickness.  If you sleep on your side the pillow needs to be thick and firm enough to keep your head elevated and in line with your spine.
5. Stretch the muscles that are too tight, and strengthen the postural muscles that are weak.  Seek advice on the types of techniques that will complement your health and ability.
6.  For those of you who are comfortable with chiropractic – get adjusted!  When your spine moves correctly, it is more likely to be able to maintain correct posture.

Turns out our moms and grandmothers didn’t know how right they were!

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.


Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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