Health Tips
Straighten Up Your Back - Be Posture Perfect
Dec 5, 2013 - 1:55:48 PM

( - Bad Posture: Is It Really That Bad? Just what's so terrible about having poor posture, besides not looking as sharp as you could? Quite a bit as it turns out. When you slouch or slump, so does your spine, leading to bad circulation. This can cause vertebrae to deteriorate over time. Chronic fatigue can also result. Coupled with circulation issues, the result can be early exhaustion. Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain can also result from the strain of bad positioning. Fifty percent of working Americans suffer from back pain, and it's the second most common reason for doctor visits. Twenty five percent of those with back pain suffer from a herniated disc, which may be caused by poor posture.

According  to Dr. Michael Gleiber Board Certified, Fellowship Trained orthopedic spine surgeon "If you stand with your shoulders back, chest high, and back straight, you're on your way to good posture. If your shoulders are rounded, and your neck falls forward, well you've guessed it; poor posture." He explains that we all have our own personal movements that are unique to us. Usually there's a good reason why these physical adaptations developed, whether we know it or not. Our physical carriage becomes habitual and unconscious. That is why improving your posture is not as simple as remembering to sit up straight. You must develop strong and balanced muscles in order to maintain an even posture and healthy appearance. How you hold your body is very important to walk comfortably and easily.

The first step to better posture is to review physical "attitude." Sitting at computers, watching TV or standing in line can all contribute to bad posture habits, which in turn can lead to or worsen low back pain shoulder pain and neck pain.  Awareness of neutral posture can help you can assess and improve your own posture. There are several ways to help assess your posture. Use the following slouch tests to assess yours:

The Mirror Test

The Tape Test

Place a piece of masking tape down the center of a full-length mirror. Then place a piece of masking tape from one side of the mirror to the other at about shoulder height.

If possible, add another piece around the pelvic level. Stand in front of the mirror, as you would do normally, placing yourself in the center and look at yourself.

Lead Foot Test

Stand on a thick rug after you have just showered or bathed (make sure your feet are wet.) After you step off the rug look at the foot imprints.

Dr. Gleiber says, "Weight bearing problems don't necessarily start in the spine, it's more in the feet." If one imprint is deeper than the other you may have a weight-bearing problem.

Correcting Bad Habits

How can you straighten out habits that are etched in your brain? Dr. Gleiber gives us a quick lesson in the ergonomics of posture.

Of course you don't have to be a Miss America-in-training to need good posture.  An improved physical carriage bolsters your overall health and fitness. Besides the obvious benefits to your back and neck, good posture is a mood enhancer. Looking good means feeling great and when you stand tall, everyone around you will "sit up" and take notice.

Michael A. Gleiber, M.D., F.A.A.O.S., PA

Michael A. Gleiber, M.D. is a Board Certified, Fellowship Trained orthopedic spine surgeon and the Affiliate Assistant Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences at The Charles E. Schmidt Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine for Spine Surgery.  Dr. Gleiber focuses his practice exclusively to injuries and diseases of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.  He treats all spinal disorders including herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, myelopathy, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal trauma, and tumors and infections of the spine.


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