How Does Posture Affect Aging, And What Can You Do About It?
Since you were a kid, your parents and teachers continuoulsly reminded you to stand tall, sit up straight and stop slouching! Boy, did you get tired of hearing that! Who knew that posture was so important? Now that you have begun aging, and you can see the effects your posture has on your spine and the rest of your body, you may wish you'd payed better attention!
So what is posture anyway, and how does it affect us? First, let's start with your spine...when it is in proper alignment, your spine will naturally have the shape of a gentle curve in the shape of an "S", which allows for even distribution of weight and helps your spine withstand stress. The purpose of your spine is to:
- protect your spinal cord which is a column of nerves connecting your brain to your entire body
- give your body the structure and suport that allows you to stand or sit upright
When you are in good posture, you are standing, sitting or laying in a position that helps maintain the "S" curve in your spine...your head should be straight above your shoulders, not forward or backward, and your shoulders should be aligned with your hips.
Poor Posture Can Affect Your Health:
- It can make breathing more difficult
- It can make digestion more difficult
- It can affect your balance, making it easier for you to fall and injure yourself
- It wears on your spine and makes it more fragile and easier to injure
- You can develop back, shoulder and neck pain
- You can become much less flexible
- Your musculoskeletal system will become misaligned
- You can have less strength
How poor posture can affect you as you age...
Your spine is naturally going to change with age, but with a lifetime of poor posture, premature aging can make you feel and act older than you really are. Your spine can weaken to the point that your spinal cord becomes unprotected and the nerves that communicate to and from your body and brain no loner work as well as they did.
There are things you can do to improve your posture and strengthen your spine:
Many of these tips are common sense, but can stand as a reminder of some of the things you may want to work on, the most obvious is being always aware of how you are holding your body, especially at times when you might be doing dishes, watching TV, walking or even just sitting.
- Keep your body limber by stretching, walking or exercising even for a short length time, at least four to five times a week. You may consider trying Pilates or Yoga, both of which encourage sitting straight. These will also help strengthen your core muscles which are the foundation of good posture.
- If you work at a desk, sit tall, and be sure to take frequent standing breaks. You may need to change or readjust your chair so your feet are touching the ground, and your knees and hips are at a 90 degree angle.
- Make sure you get a healthy amount of Calcium and Vitamin D, whether from your diet or from a good supplement. Vitamin D and Calcium help strengthen and maintain muscles and bones.
- Keep a healthy weight. Carrying too much weight can affect how you hold or carry yourself...your posture.
- When you're sitting for long periods of time, change positions often, make sure your back has good support and try to always keep your feet on the floor...your legs should not be crossed.
- When standing, keep your shoulders back, belly tucked and knees straight.
- Beware the smartphone...When you spend too much time looking at your phone, your head is tipped forward, and is out of alignment and straining your spine. Give your neck a break and look up and stretch periodically. Better yet. hold your phone higher, using your eyes rather than your neck.
- Do balancing activities such as, with the support of a chair or the wall, stand on one leg until you are comfortable doing this without support. Developing better balance will help you develop better posture.
If you are having chronic back, neck or shoulder pain, it is frequently caused from poor posture that has caused your spine to be out of alignment, Chiropractic treatment can make a difference. Your Chiropractor will look at your spine for the root of your problem, and then can make gradual adjustments that will not only improve your posture, but will help you with your chronic pain.