OK, so we all know the men and women on the catwalk look fantastic. Amazing hair, beautiful clothes, flawless skin (possibly a bit too thin)… but have you seen their POSTURE? Now that is something to be jealous of.
So is good posture only important because it looks good? Let’s face it clothes fit better, guts tuck in better, and we look more confident when we stand upright. Imagine going to a job interview with your head hung low, even if one were smiling, this posture could be misinterpreted as being a bit shy or nervous.
Now ask a Chiropractor, what is all the fuss about posture? Why have parents and teachers been droning on and on at children for centuries to sit and stand straight?
Well, I am going to explain this to you from a Chiropractors perspective. So if you are sitting, please….sit ‘Smartly’!
Chiropractors LOVE curvy spines. Not too much though, too much curve is also not healthy, we want them just right.
Your spine is divided into three sections; seven vertebrae in the neck aka Cervical spine, 12 compromise the midback or Thoracic spine, and 5 in the lower back aka Lumbar spine. You then have your sacrum and then your tail bone aka your coccyx. If you have ever damaged your coccyx you will know exactly where it is. These sections together make a beautiful ‘S’ shape from the side.
So how does one develop the perfect ‘S’ shaped curve?
We are born in a C shape, yes we are born in a lovely flexed position. An S shape would fit properly in-utero. In a natural vaginal birth the head goes into extension as it arches over the Mum’s pubic bone.
Babies are encouraged to spend times on their tummies every day in order to start strengthening the neck muscles. Over a few months babies will start pulling their knees up to assist in the next important developmental stage of crawling. During this time the neck curve continues to develop as does the lower back or Lumbar curve. Crawling is also important as it aids in stimulating parts of the brain responsible for coordination and learning. As these stages are so important to solidify healthy development of the spine we recommend parents not rush this process. I know as a parent it is tempting to encourage them to walk. What parent isn’t excited to see their child’s 1st steps. Rest assured, innate will take over and one day their body and brain will be ready for that 1st step. Have you ever met a 30 year old in the bar crawling because they just ‘couldn’t get the hang of walking’? And then they are off.
The S shape once formed is one for us to take care of for life, assuming we had the privilege of developing on in the 1st place. It provides us with increased balance, stability, and flexibility. The S shape provides a spring-like structure, which acts like a natural shock absorber. It distributes your weight evenly across the spine and discs. Without these curves, the spine would experience increased wear and tear from constant vibration and shock, which could lead to fractures and disc problems. The S shape is also the most desirable home for the spinal cord. At every vertebra branches off the spinal cord exit, branch off and control EVERYTHING! That is correct, poor posture directly affects optimal function of the brain and nervous system.
So what can we do to support very desirable S shaped curve?
If you have and little one at home follow the advice earlier on in this blog. Avoid forward facing slings as this forces extension. Remember babies are born with flexion. Limit screen time, not just for your kids, but for you as well. Remember kids copy everything, it’s a bit scary. Stretch daily. If you have a desk job or do a lot of travel make sure to incorporate extension exercises daily into your routine. If you don’t have a routine you may want to consider starting. Take lots of short breaks from your desk. Stretch open your shoulders and chest, take a gentle extension for your lower back, stretch the muscles in the back of your legs i.e. hamstrings and calves as they shorted with long hours of sitting.
You can also consult your local Chiropractor if you feel your posture is not ideal and you would like some advice.