Your Mother Was Right; Good Posture Counts
Most of us don't connect poor posture with poor health. But think about it, when you're sick or in pain, how do you hold yourself? Head up, chest out, shoulders back? More likely your shoulders are slumped forward, back is rounded, tail bone is tucked between your legs like an injured animal. It's the body's natural response to pain and illness. The problem is that sustaining this defensive stance for any length of time may make it harder for your body to heal.
You're probably not surprised when your foot goes to sleep after you've been sitting for an hour with it tucked underneath you. You're not shocked when you try a new activity and end up the next day with sore muscles. Why then is it so hard to imagine that sitting slouched over a desk for eight hours might make your back hurt? Or that lying on your back in bed with your head propped up trying to read might contribute to that stiff neck? In all instances nerve and blood supply is affected; muscles are being over stressed.
You can't see it, you can't feel it, yet gravity is one of the most destructive forces on earth. Twenty four hours a day gravity is bearing down on you. By the time we die, most of us are several inches shorter. Take your spine for example. When you are lying flat on your back there are 24 pounds of pressure exerted on the spine. Standing erect the pressure increases to 100 pounds. Sitting bent forward in the slouched position causes almost twice the amount of pressure, 190 pounds, brought to bear on the spine. Over the years, the cushions between the vertebrae called the discs actually wear down causing pressure on nerves and, more seriously, on the spinal cord itself.
Between each pair of vertebrae are two small openings through which the left and right spinal nerves exit. Among other things, these nerves empower the muscles and give sensation to the skin. It is through the spinal nerves that you can move and can feel temperature, pressure and pain.
When each vertebra is lined up properly, for that matter, when every set of bones in every joint of your body are lined up properly, then your body is in harmony with gravity, and is functioning the way it was designed to.
In a recent study at Duke University, researchers found that just three degrees of malalignment of the knee joint can lead to serious cartilage damage. It more than doubled the pressures on the middle of the knee joint and increased peak contact pressures by 68 percent. Such uneven pressure within the joint can cause uneven wear and tear, leading to painful and potentially debilitating osteoarthritis.