Here’s what we are looking for when it comes to good posture:
· Lumbar Lordosis (Mild curve forward in the low back)
· Thoracic Kyphosis (Mild curve in the upper back)
· Cervical Lordosis (Mild curve forward in the neck)
· Shoulders: Level with the Hips and pushed back and relaxed
· Abdomen Pulled In and Engaged
· Feet on the Ground and Hips Distance Apart
· Nicely Stacked: Ear over Shoulder, Shoulder Over Hips, Hips over Knees, Knees behind Toes
· Chin In
· Chest Up
· Pelvis Neutral
Good Posture is the result of a Chain Reaction. When you shift the pelvis and create a neutral lumbar curve, it moves up the chain to improve the thoracic and cervical curves. This increased tension on the ligaments of the spine will assist the stability of the spine. The scapular muscles are then pulled back and down and the cervical muscles pull the chin in and the chest up. Spinal and Core stabilization play large roles in maintaining a balanced, neutral posture.
The spinal stabilization system consists of three subsystems. The passive subsystem contains the vertebrae, discs, and ligaments. The active subsystem contains all the muscles and tendons that surround the spinal column and can also apply forces to the spinal column. Finally, the neural subsystem, which consists of the nerves and central nervous system, determines the requirements for spinal stability and relays that information to the active subsystem, so it can provide the stabilization needed. Any time a component of these subsystems is disturbed or performs irregularly it can result in other subsystems immediately compensating for it, a long-term adaptation response from subsystems that can result in an altered spinal stabilization system, or an injury to components in any subsystem which cause dysfunction in the entire system and produces pain to the body. Keeping bodies in alignment helps the body’s spinal stabilization system perform at optimal levels.
The core is a key part in stabilization to help keep the body aligned. It consists of five major muscle groups: Abdominal Muscles (Rectus Abdominus, Interior and Exterior Oblique Abdominals, and Transvers Abdominus), Pelvic Floor, Back Extensors (Multifidus muscles and erector spinae muscles), Diaphragm, and Scapular Muscles (Serratus Anterior, Trapezius, Rhomboid Major, Rhomboid Minor, Levator Scapula, and Pectoralis Minor). The Abdominal Muscles support the trunk of the body by holding the anterior of the body and wraps around the spine to also hold the posterior of the body. The Pelvic Floor supports the bottom of the core by pushing the pelvis up and holding the weight of the upper body. The Back Extensors is broken into two sets of muscles. The Multifidus Muscles are the muscles that extend, flex, and rotate the spine. The Erector Spinae Muscles are the main movers of the spine they help straighten the vertebrae and help with side-to-side rotation. The Diaphragm stabilizes the top of the abdomen and lumbar spine when breathing is controlled with concentric inhalation and eccentric exhalation. Finally, the Scapular Muscles help stabilize any scapular movement as it moves through retraction, rotation, depression, and flexion.
To work on improving posture through core stabilization it is important to have the passive subsystem (bones and ligaments) placed in the most stable and balanced position. This is followed by strengthening and building endurance in the active subsystem (muscles and tendons). Finally, the most important component to work on is the neural subsystem (nerves and central nervous system) as this subsystem alerts the body to the position of the joints and relays the message to the active subsystem to stimulate the muscles to apply right amount of pressure to the joints. All these systems work together to maintain core stabilization. Flexibility, mobility, and range of motion of the body are major components in making sure all these subsystems work seamlessly together.
Improving flexibility helps muscles to be able to stretch to support the body as it moves. Increasing mobility helps the joints to actively move through the body’s intended range of motion. Increasing range of motion allows the mobility of the joint to move in the various planes of the body. The stabilization system of the body relies on the muscles and joints to have flexibility and range of motion to be able to quickly stabilize and correctly align the body through daily movement.
The number one flexibility and range of motion exercise we recommend is the Chin tuck. (Our therapist loves this exercise!)
Have the patient stand up against a wall and place their heels at the base of the wall. Then have them take their hand and place it behind them on the small of their back with the palm against the wall, activate the core muscles. Finally, have them work, without arching their back, to have the base of their skull touch the wall. As they work towards this, make sure their chin tucks into their chest.
During this exercise, they are strengthening their posterior muscles while stretching their anterior muscles. Hold each for a count of 10 seconds and repeat 15 times.
This can be done with the patient sitting in a car with a head rest as well.
Let’s get aligned for 2021! Happy Posture, Happy Life!