Alignment & The Human Body
As a chiropractor, I often talk about how important posture and alignment are in regard to your body’s state of overall health and wellbeing. But what does it mean to have “good alignment”, and why is poor posture so dangerous to our bodies? Let’s take a look.
Viewing a healthy spine from the front, the 24 vertebrae should stack on top of each other in a straight vertical line. However, if you look at a healthy spine from the side, you’ll notice that it’s shaped like a spring and has an anterior (forward) curve in the neck, a posterior curve in the mid back and another anterior curve in the lower back. When the spine maintains these proper curves, the body is able to absorb and react properly to the forces placed on it. Problems occur when the vertebrae in the spine become misaligned and these curves are changed.
The Arc of Life & Forward Head Posture
The forward curvature of the neck (cervical lordosis) is also known as ‘The Arc of Life.” Ideally we should have a 40-45 degree curve in the neck in order to protect the brainstem, spinal cord and nerves that control every cell, organ and tissue in our bodies. The loss of this curve is known as Forward Head Carriage (FHC) and is one of the most common postural abnormalities due to the increasing use of computers, cell phones, text messaging and video games. Research shows that the cumulative effect of this forward head posture lifestyle combined with poor ergonomics can take a toll on our bodies and overall health.
According to Renee Calliet, MD, director of the Department of Physical Medicine at USC, for every inch the head is shifted forward an additional 10 pounds of leverage is put on the spine. This means that someone with a 3-inch forward head posture is in effect adding 30 pounds of compressive weight to the top of the spine! Furthermore, not only does forward head posture cause increased stress and trauma to the spine, the lack of normal movement that occurs as a result of this type of positioning alters the production and distribution of nutrients and hormones throughout the central nervous system. Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Roger Sperry describes the cervical spine as the motor that drives the brain, noting, “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the cervical spine.”
Scoliosis, on the other hand, refers to abnormal lateral curvatures of the spine. Over 7 million Americans suffer from scoliosis and it’s no secret that research published recently in JAMA shows that “shifts in the body’s center of gravity due to spinal misalignments and aging cause lateral postural deviations leading to overall poor health, disease and decreased quality of life.” Untreated scoliosis, if allowed to progress, may interfere with the lungs, heart and other vital organs.
How Does Chiropractic Help?
The good news is that chiropractors are experts at identifying the problems at the root of poor posture through the analysis of spinal curvatures and structural alignment. Chiropractic adjustments can restore proper posture, remove irritation from the soft tissues surrounding the vertebra and the nerves that exit between them, and allow your body to function optimally, and it has been shown to be incredibly effective at doing so. A 2004 study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders found that scoliosis patients receiving 4–6 weeks of chiropractic manipulation in combination with postural therapy averaged a 62% reduction of the abnormal sideways curve.
A spine that is in optimal alignment can move freely and is pain-free. Chiropractic care by Milwaukee chiropractor Dr. Linsay Way, focused on correcting misalignments and abnormal curves in the spine, is one of the best tools for keeping your body functioning optimally. Ready to start on your own journey to better overall health and wellness with chiropractic care? Call us today at 414-367-6050 or make an appointment online.
Freeman JT. Posture In The Aging And Aged Body. JAMA 1957; 165:7.
Morningstar M, et al. Scoliosis Treatment Using A Combination Of Manipulative And Rehabilitative Therapy. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2004; 5:32