Posture Matters

Strategies for Healthier Standing & Sitting

Posted: February 26, 2018
By: Dr. Mercola

Turning Sitting into a Physical Activity

Sitting is the new smoking. About 10,000 studies have now established that chronic sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health and early death. It can also be a significant factor in back, neck, and sciatic pain.

I personally suffered from back pain for many years. None of the treatments I tried made any significant difference until I began to restrict my sitting to less than an hour per day. Then the pain suddenly disappeared.

Below are two videos I did for our 18th anniversary exercise update that show my solution to completely resolve my back pain, and I do mean 100 percent. My stand-up desk is the first video and my daily beach walks that help me log about 63 miles a week is the second.

How You Sit Makes a Difference

Although I now limit my sitting to under one hour a day when not on a plane, Kathleen believes HOW you sit can have a significant impact on the risks of sitting.

"Believe it or not, there is a way to sit and make it into a physical activity," she says.

"I, sitting right now, have my feet planted on the floor. I'm sitting on an aligned pelvis. There's nothing stressful in the way that I'm sitting because my body is aligned.

Energy is flowing through my body. I'm not using muscles other than the most basic muscles I would use. It's mostly my core that's stabilizing my upright posture, but there's no effort or strain here.

Now, I would run into trouble immediately if I started to tuck my tailbone under. That's the problem with sitting."

Most people tend to either tuck their pelvis and collapse, or they try to counteract the tendency to slouch by lifting their chest and pulling their shoulders back, which results in tension.

"Often, if you have a sitting-kind of job, you're spending much of your day swinging back and forth from one to the other, not knowing that there is this beautiful, peaceful, and relaxed middle place.

If you know how to align your bones and let them support you, it's easy. There's no effort involved and it's not stressful," she says.

I believe avoiding sitting is an important aspect of health and can be key for reducing pain, but as Kathleen points out, standing up may not improve your pain unless you also stand correctly.

I could not agree more strongly with Kathleen and her book helped me learn how to stand properly. Most people don't know how to sit; nor do they know how to stand with correct posture. Kathleen's book illustrates proper posture quite well, providing many diagrams that make it easy to understand the principles behind good posture, both when sitting and standing.


5 Postural Restoration Benefits to Lower Pain while Improving Performance

Posted: February 26, 2018
By: Dr. Axe

Postural restoration - Dr. Axe

As children, we tend to use both sides of our bodies much more easily compared to when were adults.As we age, we gradually start to favor one side of the body, forming muscular patterns as we repeatedly strengthen our dominant side. The result is that over time when we do this over, and over, and over again our learned muscle patterns wind up affecting ourposture and how our body functions, especially how we breath and move.

The goal of postural restoration (or PR), according toDr. Skip George, D.C, a Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner (CCSP), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Postural Restoration Certified (PRC) Practitioner, is to improve bodily functions and perform at a higher level, both in our younger years and in our eighties or beyond. Postural restoration is really a treatment approach for all ages and abilities.

In 2014, Dr. George was the first chiropractic doctor to become Postural Restoration Certified (PRC) with thePostural Restoration Institute (PRI). He was also invited to join the PRI teaching faculty in 2015 and teaches a course for the institute called Postural Respiration.

In his opinion, the trick to postural restoration treatments is figuring out which dominant or overused muscles in the body need to be turned off or inhibited, and which muscles that are underused need to be turned on or facilitated. Addressing dysfunctional muscle patterns that are driven by the nervous system can allow someone to ultimately live a more balanced life.

Michael Cantrell, who holds a Masters in Physical Therapy and is also certified through PRI and a senior faculty member for PRI,teaches several primary and advanced courses for the faculty and mentors other faculty members.Heexplains that postural rehabilitation is really about gaining self-awareness regarding your own body, learning to become your own realignment specialist.

Cantrell has been researching physical medicine and postural therapy for over 30 years, allowing him to successfully treat hundreds of patients in his clinical practice. He explains that over time with postural restoration, patients can learn how to walk the best way they can, breath the best way they can, and exercise in a way that helps decrease their compensations, pain and limitations, instead of contributing to them.

What Is Postural Restoration?

According to thePostural Restoration Institute website, the PRI treatment approach is a type of physical therapy that is established to explore and explain the science of postural adaptations in the body, asymmetrical patterns, and the influence of polyarticular chains of muscles. Postural restorationconsiders the influence of the skeleton, muscles and dental occlusion on posture and functionality.

What is PRIs mission? Practitioners who practice PR aim to use innovative treatments to help address and correct the primary contributions of postural kinematic movement dysfunction. That might sound like a mouthful, but its a pretty straightforward concept: specific postural exercises and techniques, including those that address breathing and the alignment of the body, can help reposition the pelvis, rib cage and other parts of the body. These exercises help turn off muscles that are on too much of the time, and also activate other muscles that have been turned off for too long.

What types of symptoms can PR help treat? Any that are caused in part by compressed nerves, abnormal torque and muscle tension including those typically treated with a combination of medications, physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation or even surgeries.

What makes postural restoration unique? Is it similar to other practices, such aschiropractic adjustmentsor Egoscue, another postural therapy?

While there are some similarities between these different approaches, most treatments dont take into account adaptations tohuman asymmetryas much as postural restoration does. Humans will compensate for their asymmetric form.Postural restoration is an evidence-based approach to neurology, respiration and biomechanics that really is a 21stCentury approach to balancing all systems of the human body .

Compensations contribute to pain and poor performance, and they interfere with our ability to function properly. The big deal of postural restoration therefore, as explained by Dr. George, has to do with the exploration of human asymmetrical patterning and compensatory strategies that lie within us all. According to Dr. George, everyone has spinal curves that like muscular patterns, can be too dominate in one direction or even lost in another direction.But with help and practice, we can help normalize the bodys curves in order to improve functionality.


Postural restoration guide - Dr. Axe


History of the Postural Restoration Institute:

Ron Hruska, MPA, PT, is the man behind PRI that has spent the last 25 years researching the science and fine-tuning the treatment approach.

Ron first completed a degree in Physical Therapy in 1980 and began working as a PT at the Omaha Veterans Administration Medical Center. After becoming the Assistant Chief and Clinical Educator at the center, along with earning a Masters of Public Administration through the University of Nebraska, Ron went on to accept a position as Director of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation at St. Elizabeth Community Health Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. His experience led him to the conclusion that asymmetrical patterns influenced posture and movement, and that addressing patients asymmetries was one key to helping them overcome a range of limitations.

Ron opened a private practice and physical therapy clinic in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1999 and then established the Postural Restoration Institute in 2000. A year later he also co-founded the PRI vision center. Today, he is the Executive Director of the Postural Restoration Institute and continues to teach nearly 20 courses each year both in the U.S and internationally.Additionally, Ron is co-inventor of the Protonics Neuromuscular Training System and invented and patented the Prism and Priori PRI Aquatic systems.

Who Is Postural Restoration For?

There are now more than 150 postural restoration practitioners in practice today. Physical therapists, physical therapy assistant, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, sports medicine doctors, chiropractors and other physicians may all offer postural therapy to their clients and patients. Postural restoration treatments are suitable for a wide spectrum of patients ranging all the way from young athletes to older adults. Postural restoration is used to treat many different ailments and symptoms, with some of the most common being:

  • Tension in the head and neck
  • Shoulder, knee, hip and back pains
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Trouble breathing and other respiratory issues
  • Neurological symptoms including brain fog, confusion and lightheadedness
  • Scoliosis
  • Poor athletic performance
  • TMJ
  • and others

Correcting the position and function of the pelvis, diaphragm and ribcage are key goals of PR.The body functions through asymmetry due to how organs of the bodily systems are positioned (heart, lung, liver, etc.), favoring one side over the other. As the PRI website explains it, The neurological, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and vision systems are not the same on the left side of the body as they are on the right, and vice versa. They have different responsibilities, function, position and demands on them.

Practitioners who are certified in postural restoration treatment first begin by assessing a patients position and posture. This helps to determine how their posture is affecting the individuals breathing, everyday movements, athletic performance and quality of life. Every postural restoration treatment plan is unique, customized and tailored to fit the individuals specific needs.

Poor Posture Causes Pain

What causes us to develop dysfunctional muscular compensations? Some of the most common causes for poor posture include:

  • Too much sitting
  • Inactivity or asedentary lifestyle
  • Exercising in one direction only (for example, performing bicep curls which only move in one plane of motion, using a spin bike or doing exercises on other types of machines)
  • Repetitive movements
  • Too much hyperextending when exercising, especially in the back
  • Having an anterior pelvic tilt
  • Right side/right side dominance
  • Forward head posture, which stresses the shoulders, neck and upper back

Poor posture results in a number of symptoms due to how it forces the body to compensate. For example, if someone is lateralizing their center of gravity to the right, it will force their pelvis to rotate and their body to compensate in other other ways too. When we cant activate certain muscles or joints properly due to compensations, we develop symptoms such as trouble breathing, backaches, neck pains and so on.

Over time compensations can start to feed a pain-pattern. In the words of those who perform postural restoration therapy, whatever you load, you will reinforce. For example, if you have poor form while exercising, youre only further reinforcing your bodys harmful compensations. The more weight you lift, the more you develop ingrained movement patterns. If you already have an unhealthy movement pattern, adding weight usually only makes things worse.

5 Postural Restoration Benefits

1. Helps Lower Joint Pain

As described above, the underlying principle of postural restoration is to use exercises and techniques to address the bodys asymmetries. The human body is not symmetrical (the same on each side of the body), so there is not one dominant center.There are many kinds of anatomical asymmetries that everyone has; when we use one side of the body more than the other, things start to get painful. Joints start to wear out sooner and breathing becomes compromised.

Certain muscles and joints can become overused, including the hip flexors, paraspinals and/or tensor fascia latae. Activating certain muscles can help decrease stress placed on susceptible joints. Exercises are used to help activate under-working hamstrings, gluteus medius and/or gluteus maximus musclesand others.

2. Improves Breathing, Performance & Endurance

Asymmetries of the diaphragm affect position and posture of the human body. By correcting the diaphragms position, one of the most important things that postural restoration can help improve is a patients breathing. Groups of muscles (or muscle chains, as they are sometimes called) manage how well air is used in the rib cage and chest well. Breathing can become shortened or problematic due to things like injuries, stress, pregnancy and compensations.

When breathing is compromised, the body deals with stress less effectively, endurance and stamina suffer, and other symptoms such as trouble sleeping or exercising may be experienced. Dr. George says that Breathing is a hot topic right now in sports performance and elsewhere. If youre not managing breathing, your core conditioning will be lacking in its most crucial component. As postural restoration therapists, we can test breathing and determine how well youre managing stress, functioning and more.

To help patients who are not breathing appropriately, practitioners will use exercises to help improve expansion of the diaphragms and reorient the sacrum and lumbar spine (often to the right). Exercises to improve breathing can include: Sternal Positional Stretch, 90-90 Supported Hip Shift with Hemibridge and Balloon, and Standing Wall Supported Reach. (1) Theres also evidence that similar exercises and/or manual therapy techniques can also be helpful in many cases of asthma, cough, and recurrent sinusitis or frequent infections. (2)

3. Decreased Low Back Pain

Low back painis one of the most common problems that adults of all ages deal with. Causes can include inactivity, poor form when exercising, degenerative joint problems, pregnancy and, of course, poor posture. The position of the pelvis can contribute to low back pain in many patients, often by causing increased spinal torque in certain areas and rotation of the sacrum and lumbar spine (usually to the right).

Poor posture that contributes to pain back starts from the ground up, so exercises aim to help activate under-used muscles in the hamstrings, glutes, femur, hips and pelvis. Treatments for low back paincan include exercises such as: 90-90 Supported Hip Lift with Hemibridge, Right Sidelying Respiratory Left Adductor Pullbackand Left Side-lying Right Glute Max. (3)

4. Helps Reduce Neck Pain & Headaches

Both physically and neurologically, there are notable differences between two sides of the head and brain. The brain is asymmetrical, both physically and also in regards to the neurological mapping of the hemispheres of the brain.

Most people tend to be right-hand dominant, due to lateralizing more to the right. The skull then rotates to the left, which contributes to cranial strains (left cranial side bend). This can contribute toneck pains, headaches and cognitive problems. Postural restoration aims to help realign the spine and neck as much as possible, reducing pressure that leads to pain.

5. Helps Manage Scoliosis Symptoms & Progression

Scoliosisis a complex spinal problem that cannot be cured through postural restoration exercises, but can be better managed. Postural techniques can offer benefits for patients with scoliosis by reducing torsion and correcting mechanics of the rib cage. (4) The goal is to improve neutrality and stability of the pelvis.

Many patients need to work on achieving left acetabular-femoral internal rotation or proper position for stability of the hips, according to the PRI website. Others work on activating expansion of the right upper chest wall and a strong oppositional foundation for left diaphragmatic contraction. Early intervention is most beneficial, so ideally adolescents with scoliosis will begin seeing a practitioner before or during their teenage years to help stop progression. Scoliosis patients who use a brace, or a day and/or night jacket, can also visit a PRI physician to improve symptoms even more.

Postural Restoration Shoes and Orthotics

PR therapists work with other doctors and practitioners to improve patient results. Examples include working with a neuro-optometrists, dentist or podiatrist. The Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy of Australia (MPA) association states that These interdisciplinary relationships are based on the recognition and belief of PRC Physical Therapists in the relationship between posture and teeth, between posture and feet, and between posture and vision.

Good posture starts with the feet, including the alignment of the big toe, and working its way up the ankle, knee, hips, pelvis and spine. Orthotics offered by the PRI help to re-align the joints of the foot, encouraging the muscles and tendons to pull themselves into a stronger, more appropriate position.

PRI orthotics are highly contoured to the patients foot and provide stimulation of nerve endings. This allows sensory information to be sent from the feet to the brain, helping to encode the new position as part of muscle memory. While someone walks or moves forward, PRI orthotics flex with the foot throughout the gait cycle and keep the joints of the feet in their proper place, making sure the foot is aligned. (5)

Postural Restoration for Oral Alignment

Once per week Dr. Cantrell does integrative work with a dentist. He helps to adjust the neck and to fix abnormal neck muscle activity or cranial abnormalities that make dental problems and breathing even worse. (6) According to Dr. Cantrell, Withinsecondswe see positive effects and changes in test results. And this happens over and over again with different patients!

One way that postural restoration aims to improve oral alignment and dental health is by reducing neurological adaptations to compensations. If a patient wears a splint to help realign their mouth, the splint wont be adjusted until both doctors (dentist and postural restoration therapist) agree it should, so its a really a team effort.

Postural restoration can also help decrease TMJ symptoms and headaches. Its been found that these symptoms tend to occur due to craniofacial adaptations, forward head posture and overuse of certain muscles in the jaw and neck. Even abnormalities in the diaphragm and obliques can affect breathing that contributes to facial and neck pain.

Postural Restoration for Vision

According to the PRI Vision Center website, after 35 years of practice, Ron Hruska, PT, realized through clinical observations and study of older literature on the vision system that controlling input from the vision system might be the key to helping many people obtain aneutral (more balanced and relaxed) posture, relaxed neck and trunk, and pain relief for the long term.

The PRI approach to using vision to rehabilitate the body works by reversing painful patterns of the vestibular (inner ear) and neuro-muscular systems. Parts of the brain and nervous system affected by vision include areas of human behavior, nerves that control posture and body position, and muscles of the trunk and spine, among others. In fact, 70 percent or more of the human brain is wired to the vision system, so vision affects many aspects of well-being.

Therapists use the Dynamic Integrated Vision Assessment (or DIVA) to evaluate how patients vision may impact their muscle patterns and functionality. The PRI vision center explains that when therapists use a very specific and specialized eyeglass prescription, along with a patient-specific program of PRI exercises, the brain and nervous system seem to re-wire themselves. The proper communication between the brain and the body becomes embedded, providing long term relief. (7)

By decreasing muscular tension and musculoskeletal imbalance, PRI Vision treatments can be beneficial for a wide range of patients dealing with problems such as: neck pain,dizziness and balance problems, poor sleep patterns, fibromyalgia-type symptoms, jaw and facial pain, or chronic fatigue.

Popular Postural Restoration Exercises

There are as many as 350 manual and non-manual techniques (exercises) used in PR. Therapists may use heat and props such as balloons or balls to help patients perform exercises properly and increase flexibility. Most patients will need to be visit a therapist between 715 times to see improvements (sometimes less or more), with each visit lasting about 12 hours. Below are several examples of popular postural restoration exercises:

  • PRI Diaphragmatic Breathing To perform diaphragmatic breathing, you want the abdomen to expand first, then the chest. Try not to use your neck and stiffness your shoulders. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Exhale twice as long as inhaling to engage your abdominals. Take these long, slow breaths for several minutes at a time, trying to breath about 8 to 10 times per minute.

  • 90/90 Hemi-Bridge Position yourself on the ground with your back flat and your knees bent at 90 degrees, so your shins are parallel to the floor. While keeping your knees over your hips and back down flat on the floor, place your feet on a wall. Scoop your pelvis and lift the tailbone so your core is engaged. Take your right foot off the wall, straighten the leg and tap the foot slowly 10 times against the wall. Keep the opposite leg tight and bent, breathing deeply and slowly as you do this. Then switch sides. Focus on breathing through the nose rather than the mouth, then blowing out through the mouth.

  • 90/90 Hip Lift Ball Squeeze Position yourself in the same way as when youre doing hemi-bridges. Place a soft ball (or foam roller) between your knees that you will squeeze to hold in place. Pull your heels down to engage your hamstrings and engage your core. Peel your pelvis off floor and lift your tailbone. While you do this focus on your breathing, inhaling through the nose and out through the mouth. Shift your left hip down and right hip up, so your right knee is slightly above the left. Perform four sets on each side.


Postural restoration exercises - Dr. Axe

Patient Success Stories

Some of the many types of patients who have experienced improvements in their symptoms following postural restoration include:

  • Teenagers
  • Athletes
  • Weekend warriors
  • Baby boomers
  • Elderly patients
  • And people who exercise recreationally, including running, surfing, doing yoga, etc.

One young lady that Dr. Cantrell recalls successfully treated was a triathlete (she runs, bikes and swims) named Loukia Lili-Williams. Loukia was suffering from right lower abdominal pain that she couldnt figure out how to get rid of. She had may different tests done colonoscopy, MRI, pelvic ultrasounds, doppler (for possible blood clots), dry needling, saline, inflammatory cream and steroid injections and tried many types of workouts and alternative treatments, including traditional physical therapy and massage therapy, but nothing seemed to help resolve the problem.

Loukias team of doctors and practitioners couldnt figure out what the root cause of her symptoms was, so of course they kept coming back. It was discovered by her practitioner at PRI that she fit the bill of the soccer players tug of war. Her right obliques werent allowing her ribs on the right to externally rotate. Every time she stood on her left leg, her right ribs needed to externally rotate, but she couldnt inhibit the muscles on the right in order to do this. When running she wasnt able to increase breathing to meet her increased need for air because her rib cage couldnt rotate. After many failed attempts at correcting the situation, following postural treatment she experienced great improvements in breathing, symptoms and her physical performance.

Dr. George recalls treating one woman who was an avid yogi and surfer. He uncovered that she was actuallytoo flexible(a common precursor to yoga injuries), overusing certain muscles but neglecting to use others. Despite being very active, she was suffering from low back pain and couldnt sleep on her side due to lots of discomfort in both shoulders as well. Ultimately she needed to learn to activate certain muscles in her core and to learn how to breath properly.

The rib cage determines the position of the shoulder blades, and breathing determines the position of the rib cage, so she was experiencing a variety of symptoms in her chest and shoulders. Dr. George helped to put her into certain positions in order to activate parts of her left side of the body, helping to keep her pelvis from turning too much to the right, and her rib cage from turning too much to the left. Her pain got much better with treatment and she was able to continue doing all of the hobbies she loved, without compromising her breathing or form.


How Your Posture Affects Your Mood

Posted: February 26, 2018
By: Dr. Axe

Forward head posture - Dr. Axe

Thanks in no small part to a reliance on and addiction to technology, a sedentary lifestyle has become the norm. As a result, good posture has never been more important, but unfortunately, our obsession with our smartphones has made many of us develop forward head posture.

Why is this bad? Every time we lean forward 60 degrees, the stress on our necks is increased by approximately 60 pounds.In fact, every time you move your headforward an inch, an extra 10 pounds of weight is added to your neck. As a result, forward head posture leads to chronic pain,numbness in the arms and hands, improper breathing, and pinched nerves. (1)

Thats not all. It turns out, forward head posture doesnt just affect us physically it affects our mood as well. Thanks in no small part to our smartphone addiction, akanomophobia, most of us are constantly putting undue strain on our necks and spinal cords, which has adverse effects on our emotions. Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of the forthcoming book Presence:Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, and her colleague, HarvardsMaarten W. Bos, have dubbed this phenomenon iPosture, or iHunch. (2)

How Forward Head Posture Affects Mood and Brain Function

Thats right: Not only do asthma and heart disease begin in your neck, but so does your brain health. For instance, posture has an impact on feelings of stress, mood, memory and even behavior.

A 2010 study conducted in Brazil examined posture and body image in people with major depressive disorder. Over 10 weeks, 34 participants with depression and 37 healthy volunteers had their posture assessed. Researchers found that patients posture changed, including instances of forward head posture, during episodes of depression, and there was a mild dissatisfaction with body image. (3)

Further, theDepartment of Clinical Psychology at the University of Hildesheim in Germanygathered 30 depressed inpatients to investigate the effects of sitting posture on the tendency of depressed individuals to recall a higher proportion of negative self-referent material. The findings showed that posture can affect memory.

After being randomly assigned to sit in a slouched or upright position, the people who sat upright showed no bias in word recall while those who slumped recalled mostly negative words. (4)

In addition, poor posture has been shown to affect stress response. In 2015,Health Psychology: The Official Journal of theDivision of Health Psychology, American Psychological Associationpublished the results of a randomized trialon how posture affects stress responses. Seventy-four participants were randomly assigned to either upright or slumped seated posture. For the experiment, participants backs were strapped to hold the assigned posture.

The upright participants reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear, compared to slumped participants. In addition, those sitting in a slumped position used more negative emotion words, first-person singular pronouns, affective process words, sadness words, and fewer positive emotion words and total words during the speech. (5)

Researchers concluded that good posture in the face of stress maintains self-esteem, improves mood, increases rate of speech and reduces self-focus. Meanwhile, poor posture actually resulted in more stress, potentially leading to chronic stress.

Posture even seems to influence behavior. A study in Japan worked to correct elementary students posture, focusing on all four major components of posture: feet, buttocks, back and the entire body. After practicing and promoting good posture in class, not only did posture increase roughly 20 percent to 90 percent in students, but studentsclassroom performance improved as well. (6)

A lot of the poor posture out there, whether its slumping or forward head posture, is the result of the devices we use. From computers to tablets to smartphones, they all require a different angle to utilize, all of which throw our posture off. And it turns out, the size of device matters but its not what you may think. Instead of larger devices causing more problems, the opposite seems to be true. Thats because the smaller the device, the more we must move our heads or necks forward.

Cuddy and Bos also conducted their own preliminary research on iHunch in their study, iPosture: The Size of Electronic Consumer Devices Affects our Behavior. Using an iPod Touch, iPad, MacBook Pro and an iMac, participants were assigned one of the devices. Cuddy and Bos found, as they hypothesized, that those working on smaller devices behaved more submissively, while those who used larger devices were more assertive. (7)



Forward Head Posture, Asthma and Heart Disease

One of the most prevalent and destructive imbalances has to do with the cervical curve, the natural curve in the vertebrae of the neck. When we lose the proper curvature of the cervical and lumbar curves, we lose as much as 50 percent of our spinal strength.

For every inch that your head is held forward (rather than balanced properly over the body), it gains 10pounds of weight. The muscles of your back and neck have to work that much harder to keep your chin off your chest and the muscles of your chin stay in constant contraction, compressing nerves and leading to headaches at the base of the skull or those that mimic sinus headaches.

This forward head posture, says University of Californias director of physical medicine and rehabilitation, Rene Cailliet, can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage pulling the entire spine out of alignment and may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity. (8)

Chiropractor Adam Meade explains that the curve of your cervical vertebrae are referred to as the arc of life by neurosurgeons because these bones protect the brain stem and are the thoroughfare for spinal nerves that affect every organ and function in the body. (9)

Subluxation is the term for the compression and irritation of nerves because of misalignments of the spine. When the cervical curve is misaligned, the spinal cord stretches and shrinks in circumference, Meade says, losing nerve conductivity.

Chiropractors make adjustments to the spine and help teach clients posture and habits that reverse these misalignments, restoring the bodys natural functions and healing capabilities.

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Forward head posture is caused by:

  • Computer use
  • TV watching
  • Video games
  • Backpacks
  • Trauma

Trauma leading to forward head posture can come in the form of car accidents, slips or falls, or even birthing trauma from forceps or vacuums.

A 1999 study published in the November issue of Spine took a look at 985 students from five different high school years and the effects of carrying backpacks. The postural changes that occurred in the arc of life were significant with backpack use in every case. The weight of the backpack did not matter as much as the age and sex of students. Younger students had the greatest deformity of posture, and the oldest girls also incurred strong forward head posture. (10)

At the 1997 Seattle Fibromyalgia International Team Conference, Dr. Herbert Gordon explained that head and neck posture is a major factor in the fatigue and immune dysfunction in sufferers of fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue and immune system dysfunction syndrome patients.

The clusters of small, layered muscles at the top of the spine can begin to atrophy in as little as 20 minutes, Gordon said, when unused. He reported that a 1985 study found postural problems common in people whosuffer from FMS, myofascial pain syndrome and TMJ. The study found poor sitting and standing posture in 96 percent of the cases, forward head posture in 85 percent of the cases, and forward and rounded shoulders in 82 percent of the cases. (11)

Dr. Dean Fishman has seen increasing cases of forward head posturein young patients and has termed the condition text neck. He says that the degenerative bone changes and abnormal cervical curve in these younger patients is related to the use of handheld devices, such as cell phones, portable video games and e-readers. (12)

This is important because there are many issues thatforward head posture can play a part in. It can cause:

  • Aches, fatigue, pain
  • Asthma
  • Disc compression
  • Early arthritis
  • Headaches
  • TMJ (temperomandibular joint) pain
  • Altered blood flow
  • Fibromyalgia

Forward head posture may also contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Roger Sperry says that 90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine. Only 10 percent of thebrains energy goes into thinking, metabolism and healing, while 90 percent of brain energy goes into processing and maintaining the bodys relationship with gravity, Sperry demonstrated.

As forward head posture decreases lung capacity, it can lead to asthma, blood vessel problems and heart disease. The oxygen deficit affects the entire gastrointestinal system and can decrease endorphin production. This turns the perception of non-painful sensation into pain experiences, says Dr. Fishman.

A wellness or corrective care chiropractor can measure the curve of your arc of life, give you regular adjustments, lead you in spinal rehabilitation exercises, and teach you postural and working habits that will greatly improve your health and quality of life.

How to Improve Posture

The good news is there are many steps you can take to correct your slumping or forward head posture. For instance, you can try Egoscue, a postural therapy designed to eliminate chronic pain without drugs or surgery. Its a great way to improve posture, which can also relieve tension headaches as an added bonus.Chiropractic adjustments can also help relieve joint pain and promote better posture.

Of course, you can always incorporate posture exercises to correct that pesky forward head posture and improve your mood and mental health. These include:

  • arm circles
  • arm closes
  • cats and dogs
  • lateral raises (straight and bent)
  • rows
  • pull-ups

Final Thoughts on Slumped and Forward Head Posture

  • Forward head posture leads to chronic pain, numbness in the arms and hands, improper breathing, and pinched nerves. But thats not all. It can also affect our mood.
  • Poor posture also has been shown to affect depression, memory, stress response, self-esteem, body image, and even brain function and behavior.
  • You can improve posture through Egoscue, chiropractic adjustments, and posture exercises like arm circles, cats and dogs, lateral raises, rows, and pull-ups.


7 Day Posture Reset

Posted: February 26, 2018




Tech Neck & Ergonomic Visuals

Posted: February 26, 2018
By: Foundation for Chiropractic Pr

amplified text neck.jpg

desk at work for productivity.jpg

Pregnancy & Posture

Posted: April 10, 2017
By: Wellness Ferguson

One of the most important contributions to a healthy pregnancy is good posture. Proper alignment can decrease low back and neck pain, and fatigue. However, during pregnancy several things occur that work against maintaining correct alignment. These guidelines will help you maintain a healthy posture throughout your pregnancy when standing, sitting and lying down.

The Effect of Pregnancy on Your Body's Alignment

  • The weight of the baby causes your lower back to sway as your center of gravity moves forward.

Poor Posture (occurs naturally)

  • Your abdominal muscles become stretched as the baby grows. These muscles are less able to contract and keep your lower back in proper alignment

  • Hormone levels increase in pregnancy and cause joints and ligaments to loosen

Corrected Posture (requires practice)

  • In order to counteract the increased low back curve, straighten your upper back so that your ear, shoulder and hip are aligned. Tuck your pelvis under using the pelvic tilt.

Maintaining a Healthy Posture While Standing

  • Maintain the pelvic tilt at all times, so that your lower back does not sway forward.

  • Contract your abdominal muscles and buttocks to act as a natural "corset" for your lower back.

  • Keep your chin tucked in. Your ears should be in a straight line with your shoulders.

  • Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time.

  • Avoid high heels, as they cause your body weight to shift forward even more. Wear low heeled, comfortable shoes.

  • When doing any task where you are standing for a prolonged period of time, such as ironing or doing dishes, put one foot up on a step stool or sit on a high stool. This will decrease the sway in your lower back.

  • Consider wearing a maternity support belt (available at Newborn Connections).


Dr. John Ferguson offers chiropractic care and wellness tools to help improve posture and comfort during pregnancy, encouraging a better pregnancy, birth experience, and post-birth recovery. Learn more about how Dr. John has helped many pregnant women and their babies:

Poor Posture & Pain: Self-Test Tips

Posted: April 10, 2017
By: Ferguson Wellness

Poor Posture & Pain




A lifetime of poor posture can start a progression of symptoms in the average adult. It can start with...

Fatigue - your muscles have to work hard just to hold you up if you have poor posture. You waste energy just moving, leaving you without the extra energy you need to feel good.

Tight, achy muscles in the neck, back, arms and legs - by this stage, there may be a change in your muscles and ligaments and you may have a stiff, tight painful feeling. More than 80% of the neck and back problems are the result of tight, achy muscles brought on by years of bad posture.

Joint stiffness and pain - at risk for "wear and tear" arthritis, or what is termed degenerative osteoarthritis. Poor posture and limited mobility increase the likelihood of this condition in later years.


Self-Test for Posture Problems download.jpeg


The Wall Test - Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard. With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your lower back and the wall, and your neck and the wall. If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture. If not, your posture may need professional attention to restore the normal curves of your spine.


The Mirror Test

(Front view) Stand facing a full length mirror and check to see if:

  1. Your shoulders are level

  2. Your head is straight

  3. The spaces between your arms and sides seem equal

  4. Your hips are level, your kneecaps face straight ahead

  5. Your ankles are straight

(Side View) This is much easier to do with the help of another, or by taking a photo.

Check for the following:

  1. Head is erect, not slumping forward or backwards

  2. Chin is parallel to the floor, not tilting up or down

  3. Shoulders are in line with ears, not drooping forward or pulled back

  4. Stomach is flat

  5. Knees are straight

  6. Lower back has a slightly forward curve (not too flat or not curved too much forward, creating a hollow back).


Dr. John is specially trained to analyze and correct your posture. Get checked and see if you could benefit from improving your posture, or if your posture is contributing to your current health issues:


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