4 Posture Problems: From Your Hips To Your Head
Proper posture is like the foundation of a house. When there are problems, they tend to get worse rather than better. Fixing these foundational issues leads to a better place to live, just like having good posture improves the health of your body!
Your spine is made up of four primary areas or regions. Each region, if misaligned, can create issues for your long-term health. The spinal regions from your lower back to your head are the following: pelvic, lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. When any of these regions aren't aligned, issues will eventually surface.
When you're properly aligned, your spine is in what's called a neutral position. Neutral, in this instance, does not mean a straight-line since your back has a natural curve in each spinal region. In the sections that follow, you'll learn what correct spinal alignment is and some common problems associated with each spinal region.
Neutral Spine: Everything Aligned
If you have proper posture, then your spine is said to be in a "neutral" position. While your posture might have issues from misalignment to the left or right, this article will focus on issues with your spinal position based on deviations forward or backward.
A neutral position is a balance between the natural forward and backward curves of your spine. When your spine curves toward the front of your body, it will need to curve toward the back to compensate. So, on average, your spine is straight, but isn't literally a straight line.
When your spine is in the neutral position your pelvis (basically your hips) is tilted slightly forward. This causes the lumbar region to curve inward. If you're on your back, then this lumbar curvature creates a gap where it isn't touching the ground. Then, the spine curves backward through your thoracic region. Essentially, this is the location where your back starts to touch the ground again. Finally, in the cervical region, your spine comes back to center and the back of your neck doesn't touch the ground.
Pelvic: Anterior or Posterior Pelvic Tilt
Body mechanics comes with a vocabulary all its own. In the pelvic region of the spine, you'll commonly hear problems with tilt referenced by anterior or posterior. Anterior, in this context, means toward the front, so anterior pelvic tilt is when your pelvis is tilted too far forward. It's opposite, posterior pelvic tilt, is when your pelvis tilts too far backward.
While every body is slightly different, your pelvis has a natural tilt of about 30 degrees forward. There are many reasons why your pelvis may be tilted too far in one direction, from muscle weakness to differences in your skeletal structure, or even healing after an accident. Transitioning from your pelvis, the next section of your spine is the lumbar region.
Lumbar: Sway Back
Another posture problem that's common happens when your lumbar region is shifted too far forward. Since each region of the spine is interconnected, the shifting of the lumbar region creates a posterior pelvic tilt. Like the chicken and the egg, it's not always clear which one is the root cause of the issue. Perhaps muscle weakness caused the pelvic tilt and the lumbar region is compensating or maybe it's the other way around. In fact, both issues could be caused by an issue in another area of the body.
That's why it's so important to look at the body holistically; fixing an issue's symptom while ignoring the root cause won't support your long-term health. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect these regions experience extra stress when misaligned, so it's important to correct issues before they get worse.
Thoracic: Hunched Back
Moving upward to the mid and upper back, we reach the thoracic region. When you're hunched over and your shoulders are rounded, your thoracic vertebrae move out of their natural position. Weightlifters who focus too heavily on pectoral exercises (at the expense of back muscles like the latissimus dorsi), can create an imbalance leading to thoracic misalignment.
You may hear corrective actions in terms of simple phrases like "keep your shoulders back" to counter rounded shoulders. These can be helpful reminders, but it can be easy to take it too far and get other spinal regions out of line. With the helpful, expert eye of a chiropractor you'll experience what proper posture should feel like so you can self-correct during your day-to-day.
Cervical - Chin Forward or Smartphone Neck
The final region of the spinal column is the cervical region at the top of your spine in and around your neck. You can often spot posture problems in the cervical region based on the location of your head. If your chin is pushed too far to the front your cervical vertebrae will be strained, being out of neutral position toward the front of your body.
Similarly, if your head is tilted downward your neck will be lengthened creating more stress on the cervical vertebrae. This position is common with heavy smartphone use, so be careful when scrolling! You might also experience this situation when you spend time working at a computer or desk that's improperly positioned, like using a laptop with a small screen.
Sustaining this position throughout the work day can cause issues. Over the course of a career, though, you can create chronic issues that will be more difficult to resolve. Take the time to get a proper, ergonomically-minded workstation so you can maintain a healthy spine!
Do you want a proper, healthy posture? Dr. Inman can help!
With more and more people working behind computers and regularly using smartphones, you might be creating bad posture habits. Dr. Inman knows that a healthy spine can have beneficial effects on the rest of your body, both physically and emotionally. Sometimes spinal adjustments can resolve issues you're facing, but sometimes your back pain may be a symptom rather than the root cause.
If you're concerned about your long-term spinal health you would benefit from a consultation with Dr. Inman. Her expertise in spinal health can help you avoid bigger problems in the future and help you start feeling better sooner! Click the button below and schedule a consultation today!