An overview of current research, published in the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, shows that chiropractic care may have a role in helping prevent falls in elderly patients who suffer from mechanical neck pain or dizziness.
Elderly patients often experience nonspecific dizziness and chronic neck pain at the same time. Both of these symptoms are risk factors for falls, the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults 65 and older. Falls can result in increased morbidity and complications. In the United States, one in three older adults experiences a fall each year.
Dizziness tends to increase with age. The central nervous system receives signals from the body to provide a sense of balance, and several of those signals are from muscles associated with the cervical spine. While the cause of nonspecific dizziness is not known, many researchers suggest it is caused by age-related deterioration of sensory inputs that assist with balance.
When neck muscles experience pain or dysfunction, a connection is disrupted and the brain receives mixed signals from different parts of the body, which can cause dizziness, according to current research. Dysfunction in the muscles of the cervical spine is more likely to be associated with disrupted balance, vertigo, and nonspecific dizziness, more so than dysfunction of the muscles of the lumbar spine.
Whether neck pain is the result of physical trauma or muscular dysfunction, it is associated with dizziness at high rates, along with back pain.
How Chiropractic Can Help
Spinal manipulation is a common technique used by chiropractors to treat neck pain. A study published in 2014 in Spine found that spinal manipulation combined with home exercise was an effective treatment for neck pain in elderly patients.
For elderly patients with dizziness with no known cause, traditional medical treatments are limited. While more research is needed, several studies on the efficacy of spinal manipulation in the treatment of neck pain show consistent improvement in balance and symptoms of dizziness as well.
Chiropractic is a safe, conservative treatment for dizziness and neck pain in elderly patients. To alleviate symptoms, doctors of chiropractic can provide a treatment plan that combines several therapies, such as home exercise, therapeutic massage, physiotherapy modalities, physical therapy, and spinal manipulation. Even though conservative measures often yield great results, chiropractors often will collaborate with other health care providers to help facilitate a resolution of symptoms for patients as well.
The literature review suggests that more rigorous, large-scale studies should be conducted on the effectiveness of spinal manipulation as a treatment for dizziness. This is especially necessary because of the cost, rate of disability, and morbidity associated with falls in adults 65 and older.
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People spend roughly one third of their lives sleeping. A good night’s sleep is a substantial factor in the quality of your overall health, and inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. The position you sleep in can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep.
So, what’s the best position for sleeping? The answer varies depending on individual health concerns such as back pain, neck pain, and acid reflux, to name a few. It also depends on which position is the most comfortable for you. Above all, you should avoid sleeping in any position that causes stiffness or pain.
Pros and Cons of Common Sleeping Positions
1) Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is one of the most highly recommended sleeping positions.
- Acid reflux sufferers can avoid nighttime heartburn in this position
- Keeps the spine in a neutral, comfortable position
- Some back pain patients find relief sleeping on their backs
- Those who snore may snore louder in this position
Tip: Sleeping on your back may be more comfortable with a pillow under your knees.
2) Sleeping on Your Side
If sleeping on your back is uncomfortable or painful, sleeping on your side is also a highly recommended position.
- Reduces snoring
- Eases neck pain and back pain
- Reduces acid reflux if you sleep on your left side
- During pregnancy, sleeping on your side can improve blood flow and provide more comfort than sleeping on the back or stomach
- Side sleeping may increase the chance of developing wrinkles and sagging skin on the side you favor
Tip: Try a pillow between your knees, under your waist or under your neck in this position.
3) Sleeping in Fetal Position
About 40 percent of people sleep in some variety of the fetal position, on their sides with legs curled up toward the chest. While fetal position may feel comfortable for some sleepers, it is not a recommended sleeping posture.
- Often a comforting position
- Restricts expansion of the diaphragm, which leads to shallow breathing
- Can increase pain from arthritis
- Can causes tension, aches, and pains
Tip: If fetal position is your normal sleeping posture, try stretching your legs out a bit into side sleeping instead.
4) Sleeping on Your Stomach
- For snorers, sleeping on your stomach provides relief by opening the airways
- Causes pressure on the joints, muscles, and spine and can lead to neck and back pain
- Difficult to avoid putting pressure on the spine
- Spending hours with your head turned to the side is bad for the cervical spine and can cause nerve pain
Tip: If you must sleep on your stomach, aim for a very thin pillow or sleep without a pillow to avoid straining your neck.
Choosing the Right Mattress and Pillow
The position you sleep in can influence your quality of sleep, and so can your sleeping equipment.
Choose a mattress that is firm enough to support your body in your ideal sleeping position. A sagging, limp mattress can certainly lead to a lackluster night’s sleep. Since the life of a mattress is typically five to seven years, periodically replace your mattress if possible. Additionally, flipping your mattress every few months can help it stay firm longer.
Pillows also play an important role in your rest. Depending on your sleeping position, you may need a fluffier pillow or a thinner one. Regardless of which you choose, remember to consider how much support you will need for the head and neck in each sleeping posture.
For instance, when you sleep on your side, your head needs plenty of support from a thicker, firm pillow so your neck doesn’t end up at an awkward angle. When sleeping on your back, a fluffy pillow keeps your head and neck supported without strain. Ergonomic pillows tend to be firm and shaped specifically to relieve pain from lack of support while sleeping.
If you’re not getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis, or you’re not sure which sleeping position is ideal for you, a doctor of chiropractic can guide you to the best ergonomic sleeping position for your health concerns.
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A study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics in October 2014 used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate how the brain reacts to spinal manipulation used by chiropractors. Brain scans revealed that spinal manipulation and other types of manual therapy have an immediate effect on functional connectivity between regions of the brain that are responsible for processing pain.
Previous research has established a connection between neurophysical changes in regional brain communication and manual therapy. Many patients seek chiropractic care for pain relief, and multiple studies testify that chiropractic treatment relieves pain in neck pain patients, lower back pain patients, and others.
This study, conducted by researchers at the University of Florida, suggests that increases in functional connectivity or brain communication after manual therapy underlie pain relief.
Functional Connectivity and Pain Processing
Functional connectivity (FC) is defined as communication between regions of the brain, and in the case of this study, refers to communication between the pain-processing regions of the brain.
There are several areas of the brain associated with processing and modulating pain, including the thalamus, primary and secondary somatosensory, cingulate, and insular cortices. These regions are referred to together as the pain processing network. Activity in the PPN is part of pain recognition, but it also includes the interaction between the PPN and other areas of the brain.
The researchers recruited participants, 24 of whom (17 men and 7 women) completed exercises designed to induce lower back pain. They were separated into three groups, each of which was treated with one form of manual therapy — either spinal manipulation, therapeutic touch, or spinal mobilization.
Participants were measured for pain intensity and sensitivity, and underwent an fMRI 48 hours after the pain-inducing protocol. They were randomized to one of the three treatment groups and then received the same measurements after treatment. All manual and manipulative therapies were administered by a physical therapist or chiropractor, using a standardized set of techniques.
Before and after undergoing their assigned treatment, participants were measured for changes in functional connectivity (FC) between regions of the brain that process and respond to pain. Functional MRIs revealed changes in FC between several regions of the brain after treatment. Several of these changes in connectivity between brain regions were shared between patients from all three of the treatment groups.
Manual Therapy, Functional Connectivity and Pain Relief
Manual therapy consists of a variety of physical rehabilitation techniques, including spinal manipulation, spinal mobilization, therapeutic touch, tissue massage, and other techniques. According to the American Chiropractic Association, manual therapies are the most common treatment administered by chiropractors.
Researchers examined activity in the pain processing network and also how it reacted with other areas of the brain after treatment. Results found clinically significant changes in functional connectivity between several areas of the brain that appeared to be directly related to manual therapy.
Changes were also recorded in pain intensity and pain sensitivity. All three groups reported similar changes in pain intensity, but no changes were found in pain sensitivity.
These results may indicate that after manual therapy, functional changes are an underlying mechanism of pain relief.
More Research Needed
This study is unique because it includes more precise measurement than previous studies, including fMRIs of patients in a resting state before treatment.
Due to a lack of a control group that received no treatment — as well as the relatively small sample size — more research is needed to confirm the association between manual therapy and increased functional connectivity. It also suggests future study on the effects and changes of MT on patients with chronic pain, since these results are only applicable to patients with acute pain.
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Last week four of our Tuck Chiropractic Doctors participated in the Virginia Health Care Conference that was centered on the future of healthcare. The theme was a timely and pertinent one, and one that Dr. Tuck, Dr. LaBarbera, Dr. Rathmann and Dr. Matthis were all excited about: “Transformation in the Health Care Industry: Accelerating Value and Innovation.” The perception and outlook on healthcare is often laced with pessimism and discouragement. This conference did an excellent job highlighting the promise and progress on the horizon.
It was an honor for our team to be part of this pivotal healthcare conference and to join with about 750 other health care professionals to discuss trends, problems, solutions, and the vision for our industry. We heard from many peers as well as industry leaders like Nancy Agee, the CEO of Carilion Clinic, Peter Bernard the CEO of Bon Secours, Knox Singleton the CEO of Inova Health System, Pamela Sutton-Wallace the CEO of UVA Medical Center, and Michael Dudley, the President of Optima Health and a Senior Vice President of Sentara Healthcare.
One of the key speakers at the event, Jeff Bauer, a health care futurist and medical economist, brought up many great points about the direction of health care and the changes he expects within the health care industry. From within his talk there were two overarching themes that really resonated with our team:
- The use of patient-centered teams as a best-practices model,
- A revolution in biosciences that will shift the practice of medicine from acute care treatments to disease management
We are thrilled that the direction of health care is moving towards a more patient centered team approach rather than siloed care. The human body is incredibly complex and all the systems work together, requiring comprehensive solutions when a problem arises. We know that our chiropractic treatments are one critical component of patient care when someone is suffering from lower back pain, for example. We also know that it is necessary to understand the context of their pain, the other systems that are impacted, and to partner with other specialists or primary care physicians as necessary. Our preferred treatment style for our patients has always been a patient-centered, team approach and to know that all of health care is trending in that direction is incredible news. Dr. Tuck commented, “It was very refreshing to see experts in healthcare speaking our language in terms of collaboration for the benefit of the patient.”
We were also encouraged to hear that as medicine is revolutionized by innovation and new discoveries, the approach to medical treatment will become one focused on long-term management rather than short-term temporary solutions. We know that chiropractic treatment can be a solution to a temporary problem but at its best and at its core it is a way to consistently manage our patient’s conditions without chronic use of medication and without surgery. Chiropractic care is able to address the “here and now” of the patient’s problem but also has the ability to treat beyond the immediacy. We know that this model is the best for our patients and ensures the best possible outcome for them. We are highly encouraged that this approach is predicted to become the new normative treatment for all of medicine, not just chiropractic.
As we left this conference and drove back to our home in Southwest Virginia we were left feeling encouraged, excited, and optimistic about the direction healthcare is headed. We had a great ride home–Dr. Matthis was up to his goofy antics again–but amongst the laughter and down time we also were able to discuss what the future of healthcare is going to look like for our patients. Dr. Tuck emphasized, “The future of healthcare and the way chiropractic care is delivered will be centered around the patient. We will continue to gauge our success with performance measurements like great patient outcomes and great patient satisfaction.” To put it succinctly: we will continue our goal and mission of making a positive impact on every life we touch.
Most of us had parents and teachers fuss at us: “Stand up straight! Don’t slouch! Sit properly at the table!” Mom always knew best, didn’t she?
At some point in our lives we probably stopped hearing those warnings and stopped paying attention to our posture. After all, there were so many other important things to think about, right?
Now that you’re an adult with your own health concerns, you most likely focus your attention on what you’re eating and how you’re exercising. We tend to get so caught up with the latest trends and studies that we forget about basic self-care concepts like not sitting for too long, eating enough fruits and vegetables, and having good posture.
Good Posture and Health
When was the last time you considered your posture as an important aspect of your health? Take a second and think about it as you read this article. Are you slouched over your desk or are you hunched over a smartphone screen, creating a “text neck” problem? All too often a position that initially feels comfortable can make us feel worse than we did to begin with.
Having better posture will help you feel better emotionally and physically. It’s possible that the back pain you’re dealing with stems from poor posture. Complaints ranging from lower back pain and neck pain to headaches, TMJ disorder, and plantar fasciitis all have been associated with poor posture.
In fact, discomfort and pain are the tell-tale signs of poor posture. When you place added stress on your body you aren’t comfortable, and when you’re in pain, you adapt your posture to accommodate the pain, which may cause anatomical changes and ultimately puts more stress on your spine. Over time, you may even develop digestive and cardiopulmonary problems from issues related to your poor posture. According to the American Chiropractic Association, poor posture creates a chain reaction throughout the body.
So What Exactly Is Good Posture?
So what does good posture look like? The ACA puts it best: good posture is when all of the parts of your body are both balanced and supported. While standing you’d be able to draw a straight line all the way from your earlobes through your hips and knees. According to Dr. Mallika Marshall of CBS’s The Saturday Early Show, when you have good posture, your bones are properly aligned, which is necessary for your muscles, joints, ligaments, and internal organs to work properly.”
Don’t be alarmed, though, if that line isn’t straight: It’s totally possible to correct your posture. In fact, it’s easier to fix your posture than it is to lose weight, so don’t lose hope.
How Can You Improve Your Posture?
Here are some ways to develop better posture, courtesy of the American Chiropractic Association:
- When sitting, keep your ankles in front of your knees and avoid crossing your legs. Also make sure your lower or mid-back is supported (adjust the backrest of your chair or use a small cushion for support).
- Try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees or on your back with a pillow under your knees in order to help support your alignment.
- When walking or standing, keep your stomach tucked in and make sure your earlobes line up with your shoulders — this helps ensure that you’re not pushing your head too far forward or backward.
With time and with practice, you can gain and maintain good posture. Talk to your chiropractor — he or she can check your posture, suggest exercises, and make personalized recommendations that fit your abilities and lifestyle. During your appointment, your doctor of chiropractic can also make adjustments to help with any misalignments in your spine.
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A pilot study published in January 2015 in the journal Chiropractic and Manual Therapies found that lumbar spine manipulation and sacroiliac joint manipulation resulted in increased kicking speed and range of motion.
The study was conducted on 40 South African soccer players without previous injuries. Researchers Kyle Colin Deutschmann, Andrew Douglas Jones, and Charmaine Maria Korporaal of the Durban University of Technology selected subjects with similar physicality (height, weight, etc.) and clinical signs of lumbar spine or sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
The players were separated into four groups and given lumbar spine manipulation, sacroiliac joint (SI joint) manipulation, both lumbar and sacroiliac joint manipulation, and a sham laser intervention. The players did a standardized warm-up before treatment.
Immediately after receiving manipulation or sham treatment, players were measured biomechanically for changes in range of motion and kicking speed, as well as their perception of change in kicking speed.
Subjects who had received lumbar spine manipulation and SI joint manipulation had the most significant increase in range of motion in lumbar extension, right rotation, and SI joint angular motions. All subjects who received manipulation of any kind had an increased kicking speed and they tended to perceive that their kicking speed had increased. Lumbar spine manipulation caused a significant increase in range of motion in right and left rotation, while SI joint manipulation did not cause significant increases in range of motion.
Muscle and Joint Function’s Role in Performance
Kicking, a fundamental motion in soccer, requires an intricate cooperation of muscles, joints, and ligaments. Range of motion and flexion in joints of the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joint are vital to the instep kicking motion. Players must deliver maximum power each time they kick, which means the joints and muscles must be fully functional at all times.
When spinal joints do not function as they should, it has negative effects on the function of surrounding muscles and tissues as well as the rest of the body, making it harder for players to kick. This pilot study highlights the importance of restoring biomechanical balance to the structures of the spine through chiropractic manipulation.
Chiropractic Manipulation’s Effects on Muscle Function Studied
This study is the latest in several studies to examine how chiropractic manipulation affects muscle control and function. Another study recently discovered that chiropractic manipulation increases muscle function, reduces muscle fatigue, and increases the brain’s ability to communicate with muscles. This growing area of chiropractic research sheds light on manipulation as a treatment to improve overall physical function, particularly for athletes.
Due to the small size of the South African pilot study, the results call for more investigation into the effects of manipulation on kicking performance.
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Last month the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) called for doctors and patients to consider conservative care in the treatment of lower back pain. The press release cited two recent studies on the effectiveness of the widely recommended drug acetaminophen in treating spinal pain.
One study by researchers in Australia, published in British Medical Journal in March 2015, reviewed all available research on the use of the over-the-counter medication acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol or paracetamol) as a treatment for neck pain, lower back pain, and hip or knee osteoarthritis. Studies that qualified for analysis involved the use of acetaminophen or a placebo and examined its effect on quality of life, pain, and disability.
The analysis revealed that as a treatment for lower back pain, acetaminophen’s effectiveness compared to that of a placebo in reducing intensity of pain, improving disability rates, and improving quality of life. There was a slight improvement in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, but it was not clinically significant. The study was conducted by researchers associated with the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, and the Centre for Education and Research on Ageing at Concord Hospital.
Another study cited by the ACA, published in July 2014 in The Lancet, focused specifically on the effectiveness of acetaminophen for lower back pain. This study was conducted on patients at 235 primary care clinics in Sydney, Australia, between 2009 and 2013. Patients with lower back pain were assigned to one of three groups and received instructions to take a placebo, to take acetaminophen three times a day for four weeks, or to take acetaminophen as needed for pain over four weeks.
Patients treated for lower back pain with acetaminophen, whether using as needed or taking daily doses, experienced no significant improvement in recovery time compared with placebo patients. The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and GlaxoSmithKline Australia.
A recent report released by the NIH also documented the ineffectiveness of prescription painkillers as long-term treatment for chronic pain. The report called for an increase in individualized treatment and conservative care.
ACA Emphasizes Conservative Treatment
The ACA is asking physicians to consider recommending conservative treatment – including chiropractic — first.
ACA President Anthony Hamm, D.C., said conservative care is not only less risky than the use of painkillers, but it can also be more cost-effective. Prescription painkillers may be associated with high rates of addiction, while acetaminophen is increasingly linked to other health problems.
A growing body of evidence supports the effectiveness of conservative treatments like chiropractic for long-term relief and resolution of spine and joint condition. Recent research shows that when treating spinal stenosis, conservative treatment and surgery have similar long-term outcomes and that chiropractic is effective for reducing knee osteoarthritis-related pain and pain in the cervical spine.
Dr. Hamm recommends chiropractic treatment when back pain sets in to prevent further costs down the line and to help patients return to functional living more quickly. Chiropractic may be a better option for long-term relief when compared with OTC or prescription medication. Patient-centered chiropractic treatment focuses on a variety of factors that cause or worsen muscle pain and can help patients avoid costly, risky medical procedures and medications.
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NFL Chiropractors Are an Integral Part of Team Health Care
Over the past few decades, chiropractic care has become increasingly important in the National Football League. All 32 NFL teams currently employ a chiropractor, and many current and former NFL players have spoken out about the value of chiropractic during and after their careers.
Hall of Famer Jerry Rice — considered the greatest wide receiver of all time — has been a spokesperson for the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. Hear what he has to say about chiropractic in the video below.
The New York Giants’ team chiropractor, Dr. Robert DeStefano, D.C., describes health care in the NFL as a coordinated team, comprised of many types of medical professionals: orthopedists, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and more. A survey of NFL chiropractors found that before chiropractic treatment was common in the NFL, players generally sought chiropractors on their own or were referred to one by an athletic trainer. After treating one player, many others were quickly referred to see them.
Dr. Michael Miller, D.C., of the New England Patriots claims he became the first official team chiropractor in the NFL when he began treating Patriots players 30 years ago. When chiropractic treatment started becoming popular, chiropractors often met players in hotel rooms or parking lots to provide adjustments. Now they typically share the training room with other medical professionals who treat the team, or provide adjustments in the locker room.
Almost half of team chiropractors travel with their teams to away games, according to the Professional Football Chiropractic Society.
Common NFL Injuries
NFL players can suffer numerous injuries throughout their careers in practice, games, and even during off-season training. The NFL reported more than 4,000 injuries in 2011. Injuries can vary widely and are often related to a player’s position. Injuries commonly occur in the upper body, such as the neck and shoulder, as well as in the extremities, such as the lower leg, knee, ankle, and foot.
Another common and serious type of injury affecting NFL players are concussions. For many years the NFL denied the possibility of long-term health problems associated with repeated blows to the head. But in 2014 the NFL acknowledged the dangers of multiple concussions and estimated that brain injuries will affect as many as one in three retired players.
Brain injuries can cause players to develop neurological disorders such as dementia at higher rates. Due to these findings, the NFL has taken significant steps to cut down on traumatic brain injuries, including penalizing, fining, and even suspending players for certain types of hits to the head. The NFL has also developed elaborate sideline protocols to diagnose concussions during games. As a result, the number of NFL player concussions fell by 13 percent between 2012 and 2013. But due to the physical nature of the sport, concussions are an unavoidable injury for many NFL players.
What Do Chiropractors Treat NFL Players For?
NFL chiropractors spend a lot of time keeping their players in shape, giving an average of 30 to 50 treatments per week.
According to the 2002 survey of NFL chiropractors, the most common injury NFL chiropractors treat is lower back pain. They also frequently treat players for “burners” and “stingers,” nerve pain commonly associated with contact sports. They typically occur as a result of injury to the nerve supply of the upper arm, usually blows to the neck or shoulder. Untreated, these injuries can cause pain that radiates from the shoulder to the hand.
Other acute injuries treated by NFL chiropractors include muscle strains, whiplash, and neck pain.
Players can also develop chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel misalignment and temperomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. These conditions, like acute injuries, can seriously inhibit a player’s ability to take the field. Chiropractic realignment can relieve pain from these chronic injuries, while preventing them from getting worse.
Treatment for Concussions
NFL players may also seek chiropractic care for headaches, which are often a secondary complaint after a concussion.
Several case studies show that chiropractic treatment can assist with improvement in a wide range of post-concussion disorders. Some of those disorders include attention deficit, dizziness, visual dysfunction, delayed reaction, depression and trouble sleeping.
Chiropractors are often among several health professionals treating players after a game, and therefore have the opportunity to observe players for post-concussion signs and symptoms, such as dull headaches, fatigue, irritability, tinnitus, and anxiety, among other complaints. Catching these signs early is vital, since an untreated concussion can cause brain injury that leads to seizures and even death.
Chiropractic Care and Injury Prevention
Early in an NFL player’s career, injuries can mean the difference between years of playing professional football or just one short season. According to statistics website Statista.com, the average NFL career lasts just over three years, which means many players are racing the clock.
Throughout NFL history, players have been given numbing agents to “play through the pain.” This temporary relief for injury can cause further damage and hinder healing. Understanding of pain has developed past this short-term strategy to deal with injuries, and chiropractors provide a valuable part of the solution.
In a news conference preceding the 2013 Super Bowl, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said preventing head injuries is his first priority moving forward with the league. “I’ll do anything that’s going to make the game safer and better,” he said.
As the NFL seeks to ensure the health of players, chiropractic care will continue to play an important role in injury rehabilitation and performance.
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The American Chiropractic Association celebrates Correct Posture Month in May each year. Good posture is essential to maintaining the musculoskeletal balance of our bodies, which prevents harm to joints, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Proper posture can also help prevent muscle fatigue by allowing the muscles to use energy in the most efficient way possible.
But that’s not all. Research shows that posture can impact your overall health and happiness in several other important ways.
1) Good posture can improve your self-esteem.
A study conducted by a team of researchers in New Zealand and published in the journal Health Psychology found that when participants sat up straight, they reported feeling strong, enthusiastic, and excited, whereas a slouching posture corresponded with feelings of fear, hostility, and passivity. Researchers also reported that subjects in the upright position maintained a better rate of speech and stronger pulse.
2) Good posture can ease symptoms of depression and increase positive thoughts.
Professor Eric Peper, a researcher at San Francisco State University has studied the connection between posture and mood. In one of Peper’s experiments, participants reported that upright posture naturally led to more positive thoughts. His research as well as previous studies conducted by other researchers point to a mind-body relationship that runs both ways: bad posture can lead to increased feelings of depression, while good posture has the potential to increase positive thoughts and lift mood.
3) Good posture can increase feelings of power, self-control, and confidence.
Researchers from Columbia and Harvard universities conducted a study on posture and found that closed body postures, such as slouching inward, led to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to expanded body postures. Participants with expanded body postures reported feeling more powerful and confident. An assessment of desire to take risks also found that open body postures made participants feel more inclined to take risks.
4) Good posture can reduce back and neck pain.
It’s clear that good posture has some powerful mental and emotional effects, but good posture can also help reduce back and neck pain. Bad posture can lead to strain on the joints and ligaments, as well as muscle soreness. Over time, chronic bad posture can cause premature wearing of the spinal structures, as well as secondary problems like headaches. Good posture helps to maintain balance and support for all areas of the body.
5) Good posture can improve oxygen intake by as much as 30 percent.
Besides causing damage to the structures of the body, bad posture can also reduce your ability to intake oxygen. Author and physician Jacob Teitelbaum recommends sitting up straight with an expanded chest, which can increase oxygen intake by as much as 30 percent. The increase in the amount of airflow provided by good posture provides more oxygen to the brain and muscles, giving your body an overall energy boost.
How Can You Improve Your Posture?
With all the evidence pointing to the benefits of good posture, you may be wondering about the best way to improve yours. This May, start making posture a priority with these guidelines for better sitting and standing habits — habits that may help you feel better physically and emotionally.
- Be sure your ears, hips, and shoulders are all lined up, and align your feet with your hips and shoulders.
- Keep your knees from locking by bending them slightly and bear your weight on the balls of your feet instead of your heels.
- Engage your core muscles, and roll your shoulders back to avoid slouching.
- Your weight should be evenly distributed between your “sit bones.”
- Don’t cross your legs, and keep your knees level with or slightly higher than your hips.
- In an optimal sitting position, your feet should be flat on the floor.
- While sitting at a desk your shoulders should be relaxed and your arms should be at a right angle, with your forearms parallel to the floor.
With so much of our lives spent either sitting or standing, keeping these tips in mind can go a long way toward improving your posture.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the benefits of good posture or how to improve yours, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Correct Posture Month, from the team at Tuck Chiropractic Clinic!