The Importance of Good Posture

When it comes time each month for me to write an article for the Gazette I try to think of our present times in our community for ways that some information can be provided to the public. One avenue has always been education and another has information that many would find beneficial. I see on a daily basis many patients and people whose bodies and posture has changed from when I first opened practice in Forked River back in 1987.  I’ve been in practice for almost 28 years and in this time I have truly seen different postural presentations on a daily basis. I’d like to share some of these with you. One obvious factor is our present day lifestyle with computers. Computers are a way of life for work and personal habits.  We are bent over daily when leaning over a desk, hunched over on our laptops, sitting on a couch with computers on our laps head down in a rounded shoulder position, as well as utilizing cellular phones as computers in this hunched over position.

What I am finding is amazing as our bodies were not being forced in this position back in the late 1980s as they are in present day. There are so much more hyper kyphotic presentations today than there were twenty years ago.  Kyphosis is your mid and upper back region where there is supposed to be a mild curve that supports your spine while you sit, stand and walk.  This mild curve is distributed from your upper back going towards your lower back and gives you that little bit of a posture then in your upper back. This allows for a proper support for your neck and also your lower back. However, this mid back presentations over the past decade, and certainly over the past five years is becoming more prevalent of a hyper kyphosis (Hyper means increased) especially in young adults. This has aided to what is in the layman’s term called very round shoulders. Very round shoulders (Hyper kyphosis) forces your head to move forward putting excessive pressure on your upper back as well as significant upper back stress between the shoulders. This enhances stress to the upper back, creates pain with difficulty turning your neck and can even increase headaches symptoms. Although medical and chiropractic advice should not be rendered to the public without evaluations and examinations proper sitting techniques as well as posture information can be forwarded in this article. Sitting in a proper chair at 90° is very beneficial. 90° with your feet to the floor.  90 degrees sitting at your knees bent.  90 degrees sitting at your hip in the chair.  Chairs should be comfortable.  A chair for me (6 foot three) would not be the same chair for someone 5’3””.  My chair would have to be a longer chair and higher up with someone at 5 foot three should be a shorter chair so the legs are not being pinched at the knees and feet are able to be square to the ground.  Height of the armrest should also be at 90° so you’re resting your elbows on the armrest without having to lean over.  You should be sitting straight back in chair and should keep your shoulders back while working especially at the computer. If you’re sitting in a soft couch or a chair bent over on the phone you will find yourself bent over forward looking down.  You can prevent excessive strain to your back by placing a pillow on your lap then place phone or computer on pillow to allow your arms to be higher which will prevent your head from looking down so much. This will also aid in preventing stress to the upper back. Try to be conscious when driving and keep your shoulders back up against the seat.  Also, if you are finding yourself all hunched over you can do an easy stretch of reversed shoulder rolls daily. This is elevating your shoulders, bending backwards, then down, then forward and continuing for about ten to fifteen times per session.  This can be done three times a day and should assist in improving rounded shoulders as well as reducing strain to your neck, upper and mid back.  This would also stretch the front of your chest region (pectoral muscles) as well as loosen up your upper back muscles which can aid in improvement of posture.

Submitted By:  Dr. Thomas C. Mc Gillick

Tom McGillick