Did you know that half of all working Americans suffer from back pain each year? And that the biggest contributing factor for the majority of these people is bad posture? Let’s not even get into the cases involving neck and shoulder pain, which are also common issues that result from bad posture.
If you find yourself suffering from pain due to bad posture, you might decide to see a chiropractor about your condition. Many people swear by it, while others claim that it is ineffective and so does the research. Can a chiropractor fix posture with their spinal manipulation treatment? It is difficult to give a clear answer, but chiropractic may still have some short term benefits.
Why is Posture Such a Big Deal?
Many people don’t realize that there is an optimal way to stand, sit, or even lie down. The ideal, or optimal posture, is achieved when one’s musculoskeletal system is positioned such that there is minimal stress placed on one’s body. It may seem insignificant, but over a long period of time this will prevent injuries and progressive deformity resulting from poor posture.
Conversely, poor posture can be an indication of spinal misalignment. That is, when the vertebra in one’s spine are not positioned correctly. This often leads to back and neck pain, as well as other issues such as difficulty breathing, indigestion, poor circulation, and muscle pain.
In this day and age, the cards are stacked against us when it comes to having proper posture. Many people live sedentary lifestyles, meaning we are rarely active and spend most of our time sitting or standing. To make matters worse, many people are slouching or slumped over, which places unnecessary stress on the spine, resulting in chronic, and in some cases acute back and neck pain.
Having poor posture can even result in a bad mood. In a study conducted by the Department of Psychological Medicine from the University of Auckland, researchers found that participants who slumped or slouched had lower self-esteem and exhibited more fear. On the other hand, those who sat and stood upright had better mood and were lessly to be stressed.
Can A Chiropractor Fix Posture?
Chiropractors may be able to temporarily alleviate pain in the lower back and neck caused by bad posture. They are frequently referred to as “spine doctors” after all. However, despite their expertise in spinal health, it is important to realize that chiropractors are not medical doctors, and that chiropractic is considered to be alternative medicine.
If you are experiencing muscle pain from bad posture, you may have been recommended to see a chiropractor. People have been treated to mixed results with chiropractic, however after reading the next section you should get an idea of what a chiropractor can do and how to examine this issue from different angles.
What to Expect When Seeing a Chiropractor
When you first visit a chiropractor, they will do an assessment to determine the condition of your spine and joints. This allows them to discover any dysfunctions or restrictions. If any are discovered, they will perform chiropractic adjustments to help restore them to their normal function.
What this means, essentially, is the chiropractor will use a hands-on approach to treat the affected area. They will try to induce movement by pressing, twisting, and stretching the immobile joint to restore the range of motion it once hand and alleviate any interference of nerve communication in your body.
Adjustments are intended to speed up your body’s natural healing process, so that your body can function the way it was meant to.
How Does Chiropractic Help Posture?
As part of the assessment, a chiropractor will look for postural imbalances. For instance, a patient may have one shoulder slightly higher than the other or a slanted pelvis. These may seem insignificant, but can have a detrimental effect on one’s central nervous system if they are not addressed.
Chiropractors will try to fix these postural imbalances and alleviate discomfort in the meantime. By removing joint restrictions and dysfunctions, you can then begin to improve your posture without fear of experiencing debilitating pain or being held back by poor range of motion.
The next step is to discuss stretching exercises and mobility movements you can perform at home between appointments. The chiropractor will talk about proper sleep positions, diet, adjustments in your work area, fitness, and losing weight. Chiropractic is a holistic treatment, and lifestyle changes will be needed to provide optimal results.
Common Causes of Bad Posture
Sometimes one can develop bad posture for reasons other than simply not wanting to stand upright or underestimating the importance of posture. Perhaps you suffered a painful injury, and your body is protecting the injured area by listing to one side.
You may also be sitting or standing in a hunched position way so you won’t aggravate your injured area. Perhaps you don’t like the way your chest sticks out or you want to remain hidden in the crowd, so you slouch or round your shoulders forward to look more diminutive.
Whatever the reason for poor posture, it can result in increased risk of further injury, reduced mobility and flexibility, as well as back and neck pain. Another major factor contributing to poor posture in the population today is due to technology such as smartphones and computers.
Medical Conditions that Result in Bad Posture
There are numerous medical conditions which affect the spine and neck that causes people to seek the expertise of a chiropractor. The most common is due to scoliosis, which is when the spine is curved sideways. Another is kyphosis, which is when your shoulders are rounded forward severely like a hunchback, in addition to a chronic forward head translation. These medical conditions commonly result in bad posture which further exacerbates the condition.
Can a Chiropractor Fix Hunchback?
Whether or not chiropractic can fully cure these conditions is unclear. Remember, chiropractors are not medical doctors and there is little scientific data backing up the effectiveness of this practice. Some patients felt it helped alleviate their back problems, others found that they felt good after each session but never totally cured the underlying problem.
The Impact of Smartphones on Posture
Nowadays, everybody owns a smartphone. It has taken the world by storm, having access to the internet and social media with just the press of a button. Everybody is more connected than ever, and at the same time, everybody is glued to the screen more than ever.
When you ride the bus or train or even when you are walking around on the street, you will see people buried in their phones, tablets, or e-readers.
It’s no wonder that there is even a condition for people who stare at their devices for too long, called text neck. Text neck is when one develops a repetitive stress injury to their neck muscles from holding their head in a downward and forward position for long periods of time.
To hold your head in this position causes an incredible amount of pressure on your neck muscles and across the shoulders resulting in acute and chronic neck pain. When you are standing upright, due to gravity your head exerts a force equivalent to 4.5 – 5.5 kgs on your neck.
However, by tilting your forward head by just an inch from this upright position, the amount of stress placed on your neck and shoulder muscles from the weight of your head increases by six times. Meaning, now you have approximately 30 kgs of force being exerted on your neck muscles, which is like holding up a small child whenever you look down at your phone.
It is unclear if a chiropractor can fix posture because chiropractic as a whole is not supported by scientific data. However, patients have found chiropractic to be effective at providing temporary pain relief and mobility to immobile joints.
Furthermore, a chiropractor may recommend you helpful products such as a posture brace to help you stand and sit upright all the time. If the cause of your poor posture is due to an underlying medical condition, you should also see a medical doctor to get a second opinion.