April 28, 2015
By Stanley K. Oh, D.C., Q.M.E.
There are so many proverbial admonitions moms tell us that we probably laughed at or ignored, only in adulthood to realize the sound reasoning behind them. “Don’t slouch!” and “Stand up straight!” are rebukes that could save a lot of people a lot of pain. From generalized body aches to severe arthritis, problems resulting from poor posture are more important than most people realize.
Over time, poor posture can result in improper body positions such as hunched back, forward neck carriage or a spine that torques to one side. It also can lead to chronic headaches and wear and tear on the joints leading to arthritis.
When sitting correctly, the body is aligned in an upright position. That is, your ears are in line with your shoulders and your shoulders are aligned with your pelvis. Many people who sit or drive for long periods of time don’t even realize how much they slouch; it generally feels more comfortable until you develop problems from long-term poor posture.
Your head should rest against the head rest, especially when driving, and you should sit back against the seat as much as possible. When you scoot forward in your seat or in your desk chair, your shoulders tend to slump and your head slips forward. Over time, this position can result in a protruding lump at the bottom of the neck area.
For best results, use a computer chair and push it up as close to the desk as possible to allow you to sit back; if the arms of your chair hit the desk and prevent this, I’d advise getting a chair without arm rests. Sitting up without back support, however, is almost as detrimental as slouching. A foot rest can take some pressure off the legs and generally support proper alignment. Some people find that a lumbar pillow or a rolled-up towel can help support their lower back while sitting for long periods, and also helps them maintain an upright position.
Your monitor should be almost at eye level, not so low as to force your head to tilt forward. The arms should extend straight from the elbows, which are at your side, extending to the keyboard in a straight level, so the wrists are not bent up or down.
The ideal sleep position is in a semi-fetal position on your side. The worst position is on your stomach and this can lead to a host of back and joint problems.
Another main contributor is a mattress that fails to provide adequate support. I tell my patients at Riverside Medical Clinic that I use a Tempurpedic mattress, but I also like the “sleep number” beds. Generally, I don’t give much credence to a 15-year warranty, because mattresses don’t last that long for most people, depending on the size of the patient and the care of the mattress.
Cervical pillows are great because they help align the head and neck in the proper position, which can be quite helpful for many patients, as long as it is comfortable. When it comes to sleeping positions, everyone is different. Some patients find great success using a pillow between their legs for side sleepers, under their knees for back sleepers or even by using a whole body pillow.
The best advice I can give people is to become and stay aware of their posture during a variety of activities. In general, any kind of lifting, during yardwork or housework for example, can be hazardous. It’s important to keep your back straight, in an upright position, and to avoid bending from the waist down. Keep your back straight as you go down and then lean forward, returning to a straight position before you rise. Use the muscles and energy of your legs and knees to lift, not your back.
Stretching is a great way to alleviate stiffness and also to prevent injury. It’s important to remember not to maintain any one position for too long. Constant vigilance of your position can help you prevent postural stress and keep your healthy.
It’s vital to understand that when pain develops, prompt correction is key. If you’re experiencing achiness, general pain or discomfort, consult a chiropractor as a preventive approach. It’s unwise to wait until you are experiencing severe pain, which is the last indicator that you are having a problem. Often it can be corrected and arrested from progressing.
Many people don’t realize that chiropractic therapy is covered by most health insurance plans. For those patients without insurance or whose insurance does not cover it, most doctors have affordable rates that allow infrequent visits that still provide preventive therapeutic value.
Ask your friends or family members who have been to a chiropractor about their experiences. You also can consult a chiropractor for a consultation and evaluation to get an opinion about the general health of your back and posture.
As in so many things in life, mom is right: good posture is important.
Dr. Stanley Oh, D.C., Q.M.E. (qualified medical examiner) practices chiropractics at the Canyon Springs location of Riverside Medical Clinic. A graduate of the Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, Dr. Oh has been a practicing chiropractor for more than 10 years; he has been with RMC since 2001. He is a member of the California Chiropractic Association and of Delta Tau Alpha, an international fraternity of the Healing Arts for Academic Excellence.
Riverside Medical Clinic is the largest private provider of ambulatory care in the Inland Empire. If you’d like to find a general physician or a specialist, call the clinic’s physician referral line at (951) 782-3602 or go to HYPERLINK “https://www.riversidemedicalclinic.com” https://www.riversidemedicalclinic.com ; for an online physician directory by location and specialty.