“After a long day of sitting at my desk, my back hurts and so does my neck. Could my posture be the problem?”

I like to say posture is the window to our spine.  Looking at a person’s posture gives me a pretty good idea about the state of their spine.  If you don’t have great posture, chances are it’s affecting your spine and the way it functions.  It’s kind of like a car with tires that aren’t in proper alignment; you’re going to end up with unevenly worn tires and a car that doesn’t handle properly.  The poorly aligned tires are the cause and the unevenly worn tires and poor handling are the symptoms.  With that in mind, your aches and pains at the end of the day could be the symptoms of your poor posture and improper spinal alignment.

Here’s a test you can do at home to check your posture.  Stand in front of a full length mirror and/or have a friend or family member stand in front of you and report their findings.  Close your eyes and march in place for 5 seconds.  Open your eyes and stand still…get ready to observe!  Is your head tilted to one side?  Do you see more of one ear than the other?  Are the shoulders even? Is one shoulder higher than the other?  Are your hips even or one side not higher than the other? Is your zipper in the center of your hips?  Maybe one foot is turned outward more than the other.  Check to see if the spine is straight up and down.  Is the spine curved to the side? Pay attention to whether or not the shoulders are rolled forward.

Now, check the posture from the side. Pretend that a line is dropped from the ceiling. This imaginary line should ideally pass through the ear, shoulder, the hip, just behind the knee, and just in front of the ankle. Most importantly, is the head poking forward? Is the pelvis tilted forward, with an exaggerated low back curve and protruding belly? Is the whole body leaning forward?

These could all be signs that your posture is creating some of the pain and discomfort you may be having.  It’s also a sign that your spine may not be properly aligned.  As a chiropractor, I work to identify your posture issues and help you correct them.  The chiropractic technique used in our office is one that enables us to deliver adjustments that are specifically designed to correct your particular postural issues.  We also provide exercises and stretches created just for you.  All together, these components are designed to enable you to work for longer hours without pain.

As a general rule, I always tell people to make sure they get up and walk around at least 5 minutes each hour they are at work.  Sitting can be one of the most stressful things we do to our spines and prolonged sitting can be even worse if it’s being done with poor posture and spinal misalignments.  It’s so important to make sure your workspace is set up in a way that you are not further harming your posture as well.  Please feel free to ask any questions about your work space, but here are a few tips I like to give where work space set up is concerned:

1) Use a headset.  Cradling the phone can create neck pain and make your postural issues worse.

2) Make sure your computer screen is directly in front of you.  You shouldn’t have to turn your head up, down, or over to look at  the screen.

3) Your back should be against the back of the chair with your feet firmly on the ground.  Your knees and hips at 90 degree angles.

4) Your wrists should be relaxed and neutral when typing or using a mouse.

5) Make sure your shoulders are not slumped while sitting.

Overall all, remember to be kind to your spine.  Get your posture assessed, come in for your scheduled adjustments, and make sure to do the exercises and stretches prescribed for you.  Work is tough enough without adding pain to it.  Don’t work through the pain…do something about it!

Yours in health,

 

Dr. Kristin Nuccio Smith, DC