By Dr. Ira Shapiro, Director, Plaza Chiropractic Center, Old Bridge, New Jersey
Many of us never listened despite the continued warnings. “Don’t slouch” and “stand up straight” were far more than overbearing directives. They were precautions for the bad things to come if we didn’t comply.
Today, millions of Americans are paying the price for resisting this sound advice. The truth is slouching can cause long-term physical problems from jaw, back and should pain to headaches, spinal dysfunction and joint degeneration. In addition, a poor posture will not only affect your view of the world, but also the way everyone else sees you. A recent study from San Francisco State University reported that students who walked in a slouched position felt more depressed and less energetic than those who stood tall and walked vigorously. Is it then any wonder how the term “spineless” became synonymous for weak?
Furthermore, additional research from Harvard found a correlation between higher testosterone levels and people who displayed taller postures, while a recent Australian study even revealed “that after the age of 25, every single hour of television—i.e., slouching on the couch—reduced the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.” Plus, it put it bluntly slouching just flat out makes you look heavier in addition to making you more susceptible to injury and the debilitating effects of chronic pain that can occur anywhere in the body.
So, it’s time to straighten up whether at home, work or play. The first step is being consciously aware of your own posture and following some simple rules. When sitting, keep your feet on the floor or a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor. Don’t’ cross your legs. Your ankles should also be in front of your knees and the front of the seat. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground. And most importantly, avoid sitting for extended periods in the same position. Get up and move around. Stretch your arms and legs regularly.
Standing properly also entails bearing your weight primarily on the balls of your fee, while keeping them about a should-width apart. Tuck in your stomach, stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward. When standing for long periods of time, shift your weight from your toes to your heels.
As for sleeping, find the mattress that works best for you. Different body types have different needs. Firm or soft, it’s what works best for you to provide a restful, pain-free sleeping experience. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for alleviating back pain. If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees and if you lay on your side, place the pillow between your legs.
Here are also some very basic exercises for sharpening muscles and overcoming years of bad habits:
- While standing, raise your left foot onto a chair with the knee bent 90 degrees. Reach overhead as high as you can with your right arm for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Stand with your back and head against a wall. First form a W with your arms and then raise them upwards to form a Y. Hold fr three seconds and lower. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
And or course, when in doubt seek certified medical advice from a qualified professional. For more information on obtaining a better, fitter life please contact us here at the Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023. Our trained staff will be happy to work with you, no matter your age or condition, to develop a safe and effective wellness program that complements your life style and offers long-lasting fitness rewards.
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Dr. Ira Shapiro has been director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center located in Old Bridge, New Jersey since 1984. He is a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic medical staff and the winner of numerous professional awards and distinctions. In 2006, he was named the Sports Doctor of the Year by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Council on Sports Injuries & Physical Fitness and received a Special Service Award from the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC). During that same year, he also received honors from both the township of Old Bridge, New Jersey and the state of New Jersey for his long-term commitment to chiropractics excellence.