From Circle of Docs
Spinal Curve Dictates Health
The body was built with a curve in the spine to provide support and balance to the musculoskeletal system. It is essential for preventing deformation to bones, joints, muscles and tendons. Correct posture protects against disc degeneration that can lead to inflammatory conditions and disease. It is also critical for protecting the central nervous system
Postural experts understand that poor posture weakens the body’s ability to defend itself against infectious and chronic diseases. They also view poor posture as a marker for the presence of chronic illness. Today, many posture focused doctors such as chiropractors advocate for health measures in schools to educate students about correct posture techniques to reduce the current posture epidemic brought on by modern technologies such as cell phones that force us into a forward head shift.
Doctors refer to the natural curve of the neck as the “arch of life.” This arch should have a 40-45 degree curve. As the arch reduces it becomes unstable and results in a forward head shift, which depending upon the severity can add up to 30 pounds of additional weight on the spinal discs, ligaments and tendons.
This postural issue causes major stress on the musculoskeletal system. Loss of the spine’s natural curve inhibits normal physiological and nervous system functions. The ability to protect the brain stem and support the communication of nerve impulses throughout the body becomes suppressed.
Effects of Subluxation
Unfortunately, we are a modern age characterized by reoccurring activities that creates stress on the supporting spinal column. Slouching, crossing legs, cell phone use, and incorrect ergonomic practices at home, school and work causes poor posture. This leads to the abnormal curvature of the spine and abnormal stress on the nervous system, which is known as subluxation.
Subluxation interferes with nerve impulses and can manifest in numerous physical symptoms. Examples include:
- Back pain or neck pain
- Chronic pain common in the hips, joints, lower back, pelvis and knees
- Irritation of a specific area such as arm pain
- Weakened immune system
- Organ dysfunction
- Inability to move or exercise normally
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Autoimmune conditions
- Headaches and migraines
Although our very own chronic habits lead to forward head posture, the spine is also susceptible to trauma from birth, regular physical activities from exercise and sports, as well as accidental injury from car accidents and falls. Depending on the type of injury and which nerve pathways of the spine become disrupted, spinal subluxations can increase the risk for weakened immunity and lowered quality of life.
Dangers of Forward Head Posture
Vanity is of least concern when it comes to the problems associated with forward head posture. As the head shifts forward, the thoracic spine moves and the weakening of the shoulder blades causes slouching and the appearance of hunchback. These harmful effects trigger the descent downward of vital organs in the chest. There is a decrease in lung capacity, a reduced flow of oxygen into the diaphragm and a lower rate of oxygen reaching the cells.
A reduction in circulating oxygen in the body poses serious health threats. Oxygen is essential for survival because it maintains homeostatic functions including hormone balance, supports blood flow, protects the body from chronic disease and cancer, fuels nutrient absorption and protects the health and healing of cells, tissues and organs. Studies have shown that forward head posture is an indication of poor health and is reported to cause the impairment of simple activities including walking or sitting comfortably. It is likely that physical limitations of the body marked by poor posture accelerate the aging process and increases inflammation. This is a result of the body’s inability to manage stress and tissue trauma appropriately.
Other evidence supports that the correction of forward head posture:
- Increases breathing and lung oxygenation essential for physical fitness
- Strengthens abdominal muscles
- Restores enlarged tonsils
- Improves glandular function in the head and neck
- Alleviates symptoms of respiratory complications such as asthma
Improvements from Chiropractic Care:
Chiropractic adjustments can help compensate for postural abnormalities leading to an improvement in the health of the spine and the whole body. Research performed by Dr. Morningstar and Dr. Jockers found that chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitation exercises lead to the correction of forward head posture and cervical lordosis and restored pulmonary function.
Findings of the study also suggests that chiropractic care can improve the function of the autonomic nervous system by relieving tension that hinders the vital communication between the brain and body.
Corrective care chiropractors are able to identify abnormal features of the spine using x-rays, postural pictures, nerve scans and various technologies. Doctors then develop a specific care plan used to treat each individual’s concern focusing on chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative techniques.