Dr. Bell's Blog

Posture: The Window To Your Spine


Poor posture is now approaching epidemic proportions in society.  People are not only sitting more than we used to, but are also using a phone/tablet roughly 5 or more hours per day according to the latest research. This equates to approximately one third of your waking hours spent looking down at a screen.  This is troubling for a variety of reasons, but lets look at the implications this and other postures can have on your overall health.  

Why Good Posture Is So Important

Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Roger Sperry calls the spine "the motor that drives the brain". According to his research “Ninety percent of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine.” That is, 90% of brain energy goes into processing and maintaining the body’s relationship with gravity. Therefore, the worse your posture is, the more energy your brain/body has to expend to maintain your posture.  This leaves us with less and less energy available to do every other necessary activity such as thinking, immunity, metabolizing food, etc..  In a nut shell, poor posture can drastically effect your overall health.  Another negative effect is on the overall structural integrity of your spine.  If you put a lot of awkward stress on your car tires from an alignment problem, they will wear out quickly.  The same is true with your spine.  Poor posture creates an increased stress load on your spine, and rapid deterioration of the bones and surrounding soft tissue. 

Causes and Corrections

The two most common causes of poor posture in the world we live in today are sitting too much and excessive smart phone use.

When it comes to sitting, the solution is obvious but not always easy....stop sitting so much.  We were not designed to sit like many of us do today.  Understandably, some of you have jobs that make a certain amount of sitting inevitable.  Make a point however, to set a reminder every half hour or so to get up, move around and stretch for a minute or too.  Secondly, when you get home from work, DO NOT go back to sitting.  Do some physical work around the house, or go for a long walk with your family, but do not get lulled in to sitting even more.

Phone/tablet use is a topic all on it's own, but lets look at the main highlights.  For starters, be sure and hold your phone in a place that allows you to look straight out at it, and not downward.  The typical position you see most people in while using there phone (head looking down) puts an extreme amount of stress on your neck and upper back.  This stress can cause headaches, neck/arm pain, upper back pain, and ultimately a rapid accumulation of damage in your spine.  Because of phone use now starting at such a young age, I am beginning to see the effects of this posture in very young kids.  This is scary!  Watch how your child is using their phone/tablet, and also limit the number of hours they are on it in a given day.

You see, your parents and grandparents were right when they were always telling you to sit up straight.  They may not have known specifically why, or how important it really was, but they were indeed correct.  Good posture will make you feel better, your body function better, and ultimately help you to...

LIVE well.  BE well.