Spinal health and your posture are intertwined. If you tend to slouch forward or bend to one side, you place undue pressure on your spinal nerves, bones (vertebrae), and associated muscles and connective tissue. Numerous symptoms can develop as a result, including pain.
Let’s look at the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of spinal health and posture and how a spine doctor can help improve your spinal alignment.
Keeping Your Spine Healthy and Aligned
The spine has three distinct areas–the neck, or cervical spine, the mid-back, or thoracic spine, and the lower back, or lumbar spine. Each area contains bony vertebrae, nerves, and intervertebral discs. Injury, disease, and your posture can impact the health, strength, function, and alignment of the spinal column.
If you were to look through your body, there should be a slight forward bend to the top of the spine. The thoracic spine should have a backward tilt, and the lumbar, or lower, spine rests in a forward position. As such, when you retain natural spinal alignment, you can look at yourself in a mirror (or have a loved one help you) and see the following:
- Shoulders are even (one is not higher than the other)
- Hips are level
- Knees point straight ahead
- Weight is evenly distributed over both the right and left feet
However, slouching, using poor lifting techniques, and getting too little exercise on a daily basis can lead to a dramatically altered physical appearance, including:
- A protruding belly
- Rounded and or tilted shoulders
- A forward head and chin position
Adverse Health Effects of Poor Posture and Spinal Misalignments
If your posture seems within normal limits according to the simple criteria we’ve outlined here, you likely feel fine. However, when posture is poor and the spine is misaligned, you may experience:
- Balance and coordination issues
- Bone and joint deformities (acquired wear and tear)
- Fractures of the vertebrae
- Sciatica and other nerve impingement syndromes
People with poor posture also may suffer from swallowing and digestive problems, difficulties breathing, and pain along the neck, mid-back, and lower back. These problems need the expertise of a spine doctor to overcome for the long-term.
How a Spine Doctor Can Help You With Posture and Spinal Alignment
When you see a spine doctor at Advanced Bone & Joint, you will undergo a physical examination in which the doctor checks your reflexes, spinal alignment, posture (both standing still and walking), muscular strength, and more. You’ll discuss your medical history and your day-to-day life with them, including:
- Your job and how you perform it (sitting at a computer, performing heavy lifting, standing for long periods of time, etc.)
- Noticeable back symptoms, such as lumbar pain
- Your exercise habits
The doctor may order a digital X-ray or an MRI to reveal structural problems, nerve impingements, disc herniations, and other conditions that could affect your posture, alignment, and overall spinal health and function. From there, the physician will recommend ways to achieve the right posture and alignment. It’s amazing what some simple interventions at home, on the job, and on the playing field can do to improve how you look and feel.
Recommendations may include:
- Standing straight and realigning your spinal vertebrae, shoulders, and back muscles several times a day
- Walking, cycling, or swimming 30 minutes a day
- Sitting with your back and shoulders straight and both feet flat on the floor
- Wearing well-constructed, low-heeled shoes with good arch supports
- Using the appropriate gear for your sport, including shoes and pads, as needed
- Inserting custom orthotics into your shoes to correct gait issues, such as toeing-in or rolling your feet toward the midline of your body
- Staying trim and hydrated, consuming a diet rich in calcium, lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables
- Going to physical therapy for stretching and strengthening exercises that promote straight posture, good balance, range of motion and coordination, as well as flexibility
Quality Spine Doctor in Wentzville, MO
At Advanced Bone & Joint, it is our passion and privilege to help people of all ages achieve their best musculoskeletal health and function. We can help you discover what your natural posture should be and show you ways to achieve and maintain it for better bone and joint function and better overall well-being.
Call us today to arrange your in-office consultation with one of our board-certified providers: (636) 229-4222. Or, complete our online appointment scheduling form. We have locations in Wentzville, St. Peters, and O’Fallon, MO.