I am fascinated by science, particularly science related to the spine, posture and ABC method of chiropractic. I could read research all day long. Maybe that makes me weird (I always have been a bit nerdy), I’ll leave that for you to decide, but I do know this: Science has given me a high degree of certainty around what I do as a chiropractor.
I could read research and textbooks all day long. Maybe that makes me weird (I always have been a bit nerdy), I’ll leave that for you to decide, but I do know this: Science has given me a high degree of certainty around what I do as a chiropractor.
In this blog post, I’m going to give you a mere glimpse into the incredible world of postural science and show you what is going on beneath the surface, when you correct your posture.
This is important to know because every single day we see incredible changes in people’s posture, and the deeper repercussions of this are missed by many.
With Advanced Biostructural Correction it is almost miraculous how quickly a body can change.
These improvements in a person’s posture very often come along with reduced pain and a general sense of well-being and therein lies the issue.
Many people will ‘lose sight’ of the bigger picture of health once the pain has gone, and this, in my opinion, is a shame, because there is so much more going on with your brain and body when you change posture for the better.
Take a moment to flick through these studies, and you will see why poor posture is one of the most overlooked areas in modern healthcare and why it is important to address.
Here is some research that may make your eyes pop out a bit as your learn to think about your body structure in a new light and consider it as an important factor in overall health, wellness and living pain free.
Pathologic Consequences of Poor Posture
Functional alignment considers the relationship of structure and function. How proper alignment promotes optimal function of the body, and how postural collapse is associated with degenerative health consequences. The following studies demonstrate the correlation of postural distortion patterns and pathology.
Chronic Pain Decreases Gray Matter In The Brain
1. Patients with weak posture commonly present with low back pain. Low back pain has been demonstrated to cause a global impact on a patient’s ability to function. Apkarian (2004) discovered that patients presenting with chronic low back pain demonstrated 10-20 times more loss of gray matter on MRI than the control group of healthy patients. Loss of gray matter is directly associated with pain duration, indicating a 1.3 cm loss of gray matter for every year of chronic pain. Posture Experts recognise the importance of proper posture in the prevention of low back pain and its associated health consequences.
Apkarian, A. et al. (2004) Chronic back pain is associated with decreased prefrontal and thalamic gray matter density. Journal of Neuroscience 24(46).
Forward Head Posture Decreases Heart & Lung Capacity
2. The author evaluated the effect of forward head posture as it relates to functional respiratory capacity. It was concluded that forward head posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the spine, reducing lung capacity by as much as 30%. Long-term health effects associated with a reduction of lung capacity are heart and blood vascular disease. The correction of forward head posture demonstrates significant changes in physiology promoting health and longevity for patients.
Cailliet R & Gross L, (1987) Rejuvenation Strategy. New York, Doubleday Co.
Head Posture Influences Blood Pressure & Heart Rate
3. Jim Deuchars has found a correlation between the muscles in the neck, blood pressure, and heart rate. There is a neural connection between cervical paraspinal musculature and the nucleus tractus solitarius, the part of the brainstem that plays a crucial role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. Changes in tone of cervical musculature associated with patients’ postural presentations affects blood pressure. Proper postural alignment has a systemic impact on vascular health.
Deuchars, J., Edwards, I. (2007). Bad posture could raise your blood pressure. Journal of Neuroscience 0638-07.
Sitting Is The New “Smoking,” But Standing Is Not The Answer
4. “Sitting” has been termed the new “Smoking” regarding the pathologic health effects associated with prolonged passive sitting. To offset the consequential health defects of prolonged sitting, prolonged standing is not the answer. Vernikos (2005) found that it is not how many hours of sitting that’s bad for you; it is how often you interrupt that sitting position that is good for you. Vernikos (2005) states, “It’s actually the change in posture that is the most powerful in terms of having a beneficial impact on your health, not the act of standing in and of itself.” This study reinforces the importance of developing Postural Fitness to offset sluggishness, postural collapse, and the diminished health returns associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Vernikos, J. (2011) Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. Quill Driver Books.
Improving Posture Opens Airway, Decreasing Effects of Asthma
5. Patients with persistent asthma have been shown to have postural distortion patterns that increase airway resistance, making it more difficult to breathe. Abnormal postural adaptations of asthmatic patients also showed muscle shortening of respiratory musculature. Proper posture for asthmatic patients is a fundamental way of reducing the severity of asthma-related symptoms. Posture Experts should educate their asthmatic patients of the importance of proper functional alignment and implement postural rehabilitation exercises to lengthen chronically shortened respiratory muscles.
Lopes, E. et al. (2006) Assessment of muscle shortening and static posture in children with persistent asthma. European Journal of Pediatrics, 166(7) 715-721.
The following studies relate to human performance. How proper posture supports supple dynamic movements, plasticity in position sense with enhanced proprioception, and muscular efficiency in stabilisation. Posture is the foundation for human performance and biologic sustainability.
Pain Changes the Neuromotor Pathways Degenerating Posture
6. The authors demonstrate that people with low back pain have different postural stabilisation patterns and move differently. Neuromotor alterations to pain were noted which represent either movement patterns that have developed in response to pain or could reflect underlying impairments that may contribute to recurrent episodes of low back pain. Understanding the relationship between pain, and how postural distortion patterns disrupt dynamic movements, helps the Posture Expert make predictions of kinetic chain dysfunction. By recognising kinetic chain compensation patterns, the Posture Expert can make appropriate corrections to help the patient prevent further postural collapse or injury.
Jones, S. et al. (2011) Individuals with non-specific low back pain use a trunk stiffening strategy to maintain upright posture. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 22(1) 13-20.
Faulty Neck Alignment Can Alter Proprioception and Normal Movement
7. This study explains the relationship between neck alignment and the perception of the body during static and dynamic orientation. Pettorossi and Schieppati (2014) explain that tonic cervical proprioceptive input may induce persistent influences on the subject’s mental representation of space, creating plastic changes associated with motion patterns, motor responsiveness, and head position. Thus if a patient presents with cervical postural distortion patterns, their motion patterns and neural plasticity will be altered.
Pettorossi, V. & Schieppati, M. (2014) Neck proprioception shapes body orientation and perception of motion. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:895
Correct Posture Decreases Fatigue and Increases Mental State
8. The correction of forward head posture has many functional benefits for the body. Goldstein and Makofsky (2005) concluded that correction of forward head posture resulted in diminished pain and decreased muscle tension and stiffness in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and back with improved postural alignment that is efficient, functional, and aesthetic. Decreased fatigue and an improved mental state with enhanced performance at work were also noted with correct functional alignment of the cervical spine. The authors also stated that approximately 50% of the population suffers from cervical spine pain or headaches and that 70% of the population suffering from headaches demonstrate cervical dysfunction.
Goldstein, L & Makofsky H. (2005) TMD/Facial Pain and Forward Head Posture. Pract Pain Manag. Jul/Aug 2005. 5(5) 36-39.
Bad Posture Causes Low Back Pain
9. O’Sullivan et al. demonstrated the relationship between passive postures and low back pain. They evaluated pain levels and electromyographic activation of lumbopelvic musculature in pain-free adults during different seated and standing postures. They concluded that low back pain may be exacerbated when a patient assumes a passive posture such as a slumped posture or a swayback. In addition, the lumbopelvic stabilisation musculature demonstrates weaker activation during passive postures. By maintaining an optimally aligned spine, the body is more stable with efficient muscular support.
O’Sullivan et al. (2002) Posture and Low Back Pain Spine 27 1238- 1244.
The prevention of chronic illness is directly correlated to healthy lifestyle habits. Postural hygiene ensures proper alignment, balance, and optimal biomechanical function of the body within its environment. Good postural habits prevent spinal degeneration and physiologic consequences leading to chronic disease.
Increased Thoracic Kyphosis Increases Early Mortality
10. This research study demonstrates the correlation of hyperkyphotic spinal posture as a predictor of early mortality in older men and women. Kado et al. (2005) evaluated the link between hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine and early mortality among community-dwelling, elderly men and women. If hyperkyphosis is related to early mortality, presumably proper posture is related to increased longevity. Posture Experts have sound evidence of why educating their patients of proper postural hygiene to prevent postural degeneration if of utmost importance.
Kado, D., Huang, M., Barrett-Connor, E., & Greendale, G. (2005) Hyperkyphotic Posture and Poor Physical Functional Ability in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study. Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences. 60(5), 633-637
Height Loss Increases Risk Of Heart Attacks
11. The British Regional Heart Study found that men who lost 3cm in height were 64% more likely to die of a heart attack. Conducted over a 20-year timespan, the study also concluded that men lose an average height of 1.67cm. This height loss was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart attacks; this statistic also applied to men who had no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The prevention of height loss due to proper postural design is associated with decreased risk of heart disease in men.
Wannamethee, S., Shaper, A., Lennon, L. & Whincup, P. (2006) Height loss in older men: associations with total mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166 (22) 2546- 2552.
Hyperkyphosis in Thoracic Spine Predicts Mortality in Women
12.Hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine in women predicts mortality, independent of the presence of vertebral osteoporosis. The authors of this study concluded that the presence of an increased kyphosis in elderly women showed a 1.14-fold increased risk for death. The presence of a hyperkyphotic spinal presentation was directly related to increased mortality, independent of other variables such as spinal osteoporosis. Therefore, women who take preventative actions to have good posture, without a “Granny’s Hump” presentation, are more likely to live longer. Educating people on the importance of postural hygiene can add quantity and quality to the years of their life.
Kado, D. et al. (2009) Hyperkyphosis predicts mortality independent of vertebral osteoporosis in older women. Annals of Internal Medicine 150:681-687.
Proper Posture Prevents Injurious Falls in the Elderly
13.Kado et al. (2007) demonstrate the correlation of hyperkyphotic posture and injurious falls in older persons. Elderly individuals who present with hyperkyphosis are more likely to suffer from falls that can cause serious injuries. They concluded that hyperkyphosis is related to decreased stability and balance in the elderly. To prevent injurious falls, Posture Experts can work with their patients to improve alignment and to improve stability with exercises designed to improve balance.
Kado, D. et al. (2007) Hyperkyphotic posture and risk of injurious falls in older persons: The Rancho Bernardo Study. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 62(6) 652-657.
The following research studies demonstrate how children thrive when they have better posture. Their postural presentation during the developmental stages predicts their ability to grow and develop with less pain, more confidence, and better performance at school.
Autism Behaviour Improved With Use Of Ergonomic Exercise Ball
14. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the level of engagement and in-seat behaviour of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when seated on exercise balls. The results demonstrated a higher level of engagement with improved in-seat behaviour, allowing teachers to provide more effective instruction. In addition, it was reported that the children had improved trunk stabilisation. This intervention demonstrates how the sensory-processing theory translates into effective practice in a classroom context. Posture Experts have the knowledge and tools to help children in their community achieve higher levels of performance.
Schilling, D. & Schwartz, I. (2004). Alternative seating for young children with autism spectrum disorder: effects on classroom behaviour. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 34(4) 423-432.
Heavy Backpacks Increase Neck Pain In Children
15. This research study shows a correlation between the craniovertebral angle, backpack weights, and disability due to neck pain in school aged children. Indicating that children who carry backpacks with higher weight present with forward head posture which is directly related to disability due to neck pain. Posture Experts should educate children and their parents of the importance of postural hygiene from a young age to prevent postural degeneration.
Cheung, C. et al. (2010) The correlation between craniovertebral angle, backpack weights, and disability due to neck pain in adolescents. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 23:129–136
Back Pain In Children Influences School Performance
16. School performance and back pain are significantly related. A study of 270 children found that children who reported having cervical and/or lumbar pain had poorer school performance than the children who were asymptomatic. To improve school performance, children who maintain alert posture have the advantage over their classmates. Not only is upright posture the most intelligent posture, it also prevents neck and back pain which can distract students from their studies.
Salminen JJ (1984) The Adolescent Back: A field Survey of 270 Finnish School Children. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica, 315: 1-122
Ergonomic Program Increases Attention in ADHD Children
17. Schilling et al. (2003) demonstrate that children who were previously diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) showed better behaviour and productivity at school when sitting on therapy balls versus normal chairs. This revolutionary concept, when applied to a larger population, can help school-aged children succeed in school and behave in socially appropriate ways when interacting with their classmates. Given the tools to maintain proper posture during school, children demonstrate the ability to thrive. In addition, the research demonstrated that both teachers and students preferred the therapy balls.
Schilling, D. et al (2003) Classroom seating for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: therapy balls versus chairs. Journal of Occupational Therapy, 57(5) 534-541
The good news is that a child’s posture is usually relatively quick and easy to correct when compared to adults.
Take a look at the sort of result we typically see. The following occurred in 12 sessions of ABC over six weeks in this 10-year-old boy suffering from back pain and headaches:
Psychological Effects of Posture
Posture is the physical embodiment of emotion, attitude, and cognitive processes. These research studies demonstrate how confident postural presentations alter human physiology into a state of power and dominance, and how upright body posture increases self-worth. Posture is the social dimension of the body, demonstrating a direct correlation between the psychological and physiological body processes.
Power Postures Alter Human Physiology
18. Humans express power and confidence with open, expansive postural presentations. By maintaining a power posture, even for as little as two minutes, patients’ can change their physiology to be more powerful. According to Carney et al. (2010), power postures “cause neuroendocrine and behavioural changes [including] elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk.” Patients with proper posture embody self-confidence and power due to neuroendocrine changes in physiology.
Carney et al. (2010) Power posing, brief non-verbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science, 21(10) 1363-1368.
Confidence Levels Connected To Posture Positioning
19. Posture extends into cognitive processing. Individuals who have a positive, upright posture have a higher level of self-perceived leadership. Posture Experts recognise the correlation of proper posture and higher levels of confidence. Arnette (2012) describes the psychologic connection of posture, indicating that body posture affects the cognitive and emotional state of patients. Patients presenting with aligned posture are more likely to see themselves as leaders than patients who present with timid posture. A higher perception of leadership was also correlated to patients’ demeanour during interviews, meetings, and when making important decisions.
Arnette, S. & Pettijohn, T. (2012) The Effects of Posture on Self- Perceived Leadership. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(14) 8-13.
Posture Influences Mental Perception
20. Researchers found that posture embodies attitude and self-evaluation. Two groups of participants in this study were asked to sit with proper posture or with slumped posture and self-evaluate their best and worst characteristics. They concluded that people who present with an erect posture (straight spine, chest out, and shoulders back) had a more positive mentality with a confident self-image. According to Brinol et al. (2009), “body postures can impact persuasion by affecting the direction of thoughts” from negative to positive. The results concluded that the group sitting with correct posture viewed themselves with more positive characteristics than negative, while the group with bad posture found more negative characteristics than positive.
Brinol, P. et al. (2009) Body posture effects on self-evaluation: a self- validation approach. European Journal of Self Psychology, 39 1053- 1064.
Economic efficiency in maintaining optimal health is of high importance for individuals and for corporations. Proper posture paired with efficient ergonomic design during work activities promotes higher levels of productivity, lower levels of absenteeism, and injury prevention. A healthy corporate bottom line begins with healthy employees.
Worker Compensation Decreased Up To 90% With Ergonomic Program
21. In this research review, MacLeod (2006) explains 25 ways in which proper ergonomics can save businesses money. He explains that ergonomic programs decrease worker’s compensation cases by 60% to 90% and that businesses should expect to save 25 cents per hour per employee who participate in an ergonomic program. Another benefit of the implementation of an ergonomic program that supports proper posture while performing work-related tasks is increased productivity. According to MacLeod, productivity increases 10-15% with the implementation of a postural ergonomic program.
MacLeod, D. (2006) 25 Ways Ergonomics can save you money, The Ergonomics Kit for General Industry, Taylor and Francis 2nd Edition.
Ergonomic Programs Payback In Less Than One Year
22. Goggins et al. (2008), demonstrate the effectiveness of ergonomic interventions by explaining the cost-benefit analysis of implementation. The reported payback period of the initial investment for an ergonomic program was less than one year. Contributing factors to a quick payback period for ergonomic programs are increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and less reported injuries.
Goggins, R. (2008) Cost Benefit measurement of Ergonomic Programs. Journal of Safety Research, 39: 339-344.
Posture Programs Shown To Be Highly Effective
23.Postural hygiene programs are considered effective in preventing low back pain.
Postural ergonomic programs that provide participants with motivating strategies and actions to change their health are considered highly effective. When Posture Experts take the initiative to educate local corporations and schools of the economic advantages of a postural hygiene program, the program should be designed in a way that inspires the audience to take action. Providing employees with postural hygiene tips that they can implement right away in their career and lifestyle will positively impact their work output and prevent back pain. Healthy employees render positive returns.
Mendez, F. et al. (2001). Postural hygiene program to prevent low back pain. Spine 26(11) 1280-1286.
There are multiple methods that Posture Experts can utilise in evaluating patients’ postural presentation. When making clinical decisions regarding patient care for long-term postural correction, it is important to utilise evidence-based methods of clinical analysis. Consider the following study that demonstrates the efficacy of using posture photos to objectively analyse posture.
Posture Photos Are The Best Way To Analyse Posture
24. This article compares clinical measurements for postural analyses in terms of efficiency and clinical accuracy. According to Fortin et al. (2011), posture photos are the best way to objectively analyse posture. When posture photos are taken accurately, they provide the Posture Expert with the information they need to make appropriate clinical decisions. From posture photos, posture angles can be measured, and Posture Experts can objectively evaluate the postural presentation visually. This is an important consideration for all Posture Experts when deciding how to clinically evaluate their patients.
Fortin, C. et al. (2011) Clinical methods for quantifying body segment posture: a literature review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 33(5) 367-383.
This is why we use state of the art digital photography and analysis software to measure your progress with ABC at SpineCentral
And the changes that we see are CONSISTENTLY and PREDICTABLY remarkable with the ABC method of chiropractic.
If you have made it all the way to the end of this epic email then I would like first of all, to say thank you for persevering, and also I hope that you now realise why we are so passionate about improving your posture at SpineCentral.
This is truly one of the most important and overlooked areas in modern healthcare and we are working hard every day to help put that right.
If you would like to have yours or any of your loved ones, colleagues or friends posture checked, then you can take advantage of the FREE HEALTH SCREENING program that we are currently running. Simply forward them this link and they can jump on board for a free assessment.
Live In Alignment
& Thrive At Life
Dr Richard Gliddon
Wellness Chiropractor, Coach, Mentor.
Poor posture is not the only cause of back pain. There are many other factors to consider, such as central processing (in the brain), endocrine (hormonal) problems, gut imbalances, chronic inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, soft tissue injuries, dental/jaw imbalances as well as various pathologies.
This is why it is important to get assessed by a professional and never assume there is just one cause to any particular health problem. It is important to consider the whole pers0n, as well as their lifestyle.
Structural health (good posture and movement) is an important factor in health, but it is not the only one. Equally important is nutrition, exercise/movement and emotional well-being.