Dr. Angelica Napolitano
How is Posture Affecting my Health?
Do you often times find yourself experiencing headaches and early onset fatigue on a consistent basis? Or even that uncomfortable tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back? Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath for no reason? If this sounds all too familiar, then it is very likely that you have fallen victim to the stressful demands that poor posture places on our bodies. Unfortunately, these habits are the result of a process dictated by a progressive and gradual onset over a period of time, and is commonly undetected due to the nature of its sluggish development.
Just like any natural process, nature requires a catalyst to begin and accelerate the onset of these systematic progressions, and daily prolonged sitting is among one of the highest influencing factors when it comes to the development of poor posture. Chronic sitting poses a major threat to our posture, and commonly results from an unfortunate lack of awareness of our outward appearance.
Overtime, our shoulders inch higher towards our ears and round forward suffocating the muscles in our neck and chest, our heads move forward over our bodies, and our upper back rounds out as we slouch down. So, you can see how adaptive positioning will promote disturbances to the exterior foundation of our bodies, and much like a house will eventually crumble from the outside in, causing internal damage.
To put it in perspective, for every inch your head moves forward over your body, you are putting an extra 10-12 pounds of force on your cervical spine (neck). This will create an excessive S like curvature in your neck placing increased compression and pressure on the spinal vertebrae. It also fosters an unhealthy relationship between the muscles in the front and back of the body, causing the directional pull of certain muscle groups to become unbalanced and inefficient. This imbalance is what’s known as the upper crossed syndrome (see picture to the left).
Imagine someone tying a rope at the base of your skull and constantly pulling downward on it. This is what happens to the muscles in the back of your head and neck when our heads move forward over our bodies causing our muscles to shorten and become overactive and tight. So, what happens to the muscles in the front of the neck? As you can imagine, they are then fixed in a lengthened or stretched position ultimately becoming weak and insufficient.
The same happens to the muscles that reside within our chest and upper to mid back region, only in opposite directions. When our shoulders translate forward rounding inward, our chest muscles shorten like an accordion being squished together, while the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades are the accordion when being pulled apart. Therefore, the muscles in our mid back become passively insufficient and weak, while the anterior postural muscles in the chest wall and upper back become overactive and shortened.
As you can see, these muscular imbalances and asymmetries adversely influence the infrastructure within our bodies that make up our musculoskeletal system. The altered demands placed on this system, disrupts our bodies ability to perform natural and functional movement patterns, both internally and externally. This directly promotes gradual and significant risk of injury that will cause pain and irreversible damage. Some possible signs and symptoms include neck and low back pain, disc damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, poor circulation, shoulder pain and dysfunction, tight hip musculature, pelvic floor dysfunction, headaches, muscle spasms, decreased flow of oxygen to the brain, and early onset fatigue to name a few.
The first line of defense in correcting these poor postural habits is to create self-awareness as to how you’re sitting, standing, and ultimately moving in your day to day life. Perform a self-assessment to identify the flaws within your posture, but most importantly always consult a professional who can properly perform a thorough screening and accurately address your faulty alignment.
For further tips on proper self-assessment techniques and posture correction help, or to schedule a complementary consultation online or in person, click the link below to make an appointment or contact me directly at 561-351-1702 or via email at DrNapolitano@OptimalPTandWellness.com