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Chiropractor Melbourne, Dr. Jim provides tips on healthy posture.
Many people in Australia spend over half of their day in a chair - be it at work, in the car or driving - and a large portion of them are not sitting in a suitable posture.
How well you maintain your posture can be very important, and not just for looks. Looking at the thoracic kyphosis in elderly people (the amount that your spine bends forwards between your shoulder blades), it was shown that a mild increase in the curvature was linked to a 44% higher mortality rate whilst a moderate increase led to a 140% increase in mortality. In other words, your risk of dying is related to your posture.
So why does your posture have such a big impact on your health?
Think of your body like a car. If your car's wheels aren't aligned properly, it will suffer from wear and tear and will be more likely to break down. Your body is exactly the same. For every inch that your head comes forward there will be up to an extra 15kg of weight on the muscles at the back of your neck, that's a lot of extra hard work.
So what does normal posture look like?
From front on, your spine should be nice and straight. This means that your ears, shoulders and hips should be at the same height and perpendicular to the ground. Many people just assume that this is the case and get a rude shock when they actually look in the mirror. Check it out for yourself, or even better get a friend to check it for you. While you're at it, check out your posture from side on as well. The middle of your ear should be directly above the middle of your shoulder, which should be directly above your hip, which should fall just in front of the ball of your ankles.
Ok, so my posture could be better. What can I do about it?
Firstly, what are the stressors that are causing your posture to be distorted in the first place? Are you sitting in a poor posture at work? Are you doing repetitive, one-sided activities? Are you anxious, causing excessive tension between your shoulder blades? Try and figure out what your stressors are and reduce them wherever possible.
Secondly, what does your body require to maintain proper posture? It needs proper movement and proper stability. When it comes to exercise, it is not just the amount of movement that is important, but the quality of movement. If you are being restricted due to pain or lack of mobility in your spine, then it might be time to get a spinal check up from your health care practitioner.
So make sure that you look after your posture and your spine - it is the only one you have got!