The Posture Connection
Posture has become one of the most overlooked aspects of good health and longevity. Research has shown a clear and direct connection between poor posture and diminished quality and longevity of human life. Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.
“You are only as young as your spine.”
-Jack LaLanne, DC
As the head moves forward all measures of health status are significantly reduced.
Rene Cailliet, Director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Southern California, concluded that forward head posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the spine, and can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30%, which can lead to heart and blood vascular disease. He determined a relationship between forward head posture and the digestive system, as well as endorphin production affecting pain and the experience of pain.
According to Kapandji, Physiology of the Joints, Volume III: For every inch that the head moves forward in posture, it increases the weight of the head on the neck by 10 pounds. For example, a forward posture of 3 inches increases the weight of the head on the neck by 30 pounds and the pressure put on the muscles increases 6 times.
The British Regional Heart Study
As a part of the British Regional Heart Study, scientists found that men who lost 3cm in height were 64% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who lost less than 1cm and that over the 20-year period of the study, men lost an average of 1.67cm. That height loss was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart attacks, even in men who had no history of cardiovascular disease.
Our Posture = Our Emotional State
We can tell a lot about a person from the way they carry themselves. For instance, picture the way someone stands when they are feeling depressed: mid-back and shoulders rolled forward, head hanging, gaze focused on the ground. Not exactly the picture of health.
Yoga gurus have long said that it is impossible to be depressed with your armpits open.
Posture and Life Expectancy
A group of scientists led by Dr. Deborah M. Kado wanted to see if there was any correlation between postural distortion and a person’s health. They started with the biggest health problem: death. They asked: “Was there any correlation between a person having a hyperkyphosis and having a decreased life expectancy?”
The Frightening Long-Term Effects
Dr. Kado reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that persons with hyperkyphosis (hunched over – head and shoulders rolled forward) were two times more likely to die from pulmonary causes. They were also 2.4 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those without poor posture
Too Much Sitting Can Shorten Your Life
According to a study from the American Cancer Society, the amount of time you spend sitting can affect your risk of death. Prolonged periods of sitting have a negative influence on key metabolic factors like triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, and a number of other biomarkers of obesity and other chronic diseases.
To live a long, active, energetic life, few things matter more than posture.
This quote by Thomas Meyers, Author of Anatomy Trains, says it all… “Movement becomes a habit, which becomes posture, which becomes structure.”
Postural Assessment is Key
Postural assessment and correction is the key in the majority of non-traumatic neck pain. It's not uncommon to observe 2" of anterior head placement in new patients. Would you be surprised that your neck and shoulders hurt if you had a 12 pound bowling ball hanging around your neck?