“Stand up straight!” “Pull your shoulders back!” You might have heard these phrases and a few more from your parents growing up. Standing tall doesn’t just show increased confidence, but has important health benefits to an individual’s daily life.

At any given time, millions of Americans are suffering from chronic back pain, and according to the National Institute of Health, poor posture is a leading cause. Proper posture is critical to good spinal health, and the protection of the nervous system. Being aware of your posture is the first step to addressing and improving it.

What is Bad Posture?

Bad posture has become extremely commonplace in today’s society. Due to a variety of reasons, both young and old are displaying poor posture habits and putting their health at risk. Key identifiers of poor posture include:

  • Rounded upper back/shoulders
  • Arched lower back
  • Head resting forward

A quick and easy way to judge your posture is through the “wall test.”

  • Stand up against a flat wall, with the back of your head, shoulders, buttocks flush against the wall. Keep your heels 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
  • You should be able to just barely slide your hand between your lower back and the wall.
  • If there’s too much space behind your lower back, draw your stomach toward your spine.
  • If there’s too little space behind your lower back, arch your back just enough so that your hand can slide behind.
  • Walk away from the wall while holding this proper posture.

What Causes Bad Posture?

Bad posture can be caused by any number of factors but is the result of continuous displacement of the spinal column. Everyday occurrences and lifestyle habits can gradually adjust the resting position of the spine.

Some causes include:

  • Improper lifting technique
  • Repetitive manual labor
  • Excessive stress
  • Sedentary jobs
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Weak postural muscles

Benefits of Proper Posture

Having proper posture isn’t just going to make your mom happy, it’s going to make your chiropractor happy, as well as your primary care doctor. The effects of good posture has been tied to a variety of physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Proper alignment of bones and joints
  • Reduced stress on ligaments
  • Less risk of back injury
  • Conservation of energy
  • Reduced wear on the muscles and joints
  • Better mood
  • Improved sleep
  • Healthy digestion
  • Proper organ function

Good spinal health is essential to overall wellbeing and optimal bodily functionality.

How a Chiropractor Helps Improve Posture

A chiropractor knows exactly how each section of the spine and associated joints should be positioned. Therefore, upon examination, a chiropractor is able to make physical adjustments that help realign the spine and affected joints through the necessary manipulation techniques.

In addition to spinal manipulation, a chiropractor may suggest a series of stretches to increase the range of motion and flexibility of your joints and muscles. In doing so, the positive stretching of these muscles and ligaments helps reduce the present tension that causes improper spinal posture.

Finally, a chiropractor will strongly encourage a regular exercise routine to further improve your postural muscle strength. Staying active and conscious of your spinal posture is key to maintaining a healthy life.