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Natural Awakenings Boston

Why Good Posture is about More than looking Good

Jun 24, 2013 07:07PM ● By Julie Burke

Growing up, many people hear the words “Stand up straight,” from well-meaning adults. While this is excellent advice for those who want to appear poised and confident, posture is about so much more than just looking good. In fact, because it impacts the health of the spine and nervous system, good posture is vital to overall health.

The spinal cord transmits information from the brain to all of the body’s vital organs, tissues and cells. Coordination of all bodily functions is dependent on this free flow of communication. Many of life’s emotional and environmental stressors create tension that can deform the spine, and these misalignments interfere with the smooth passage of nerve impulses. If left uncorrected, such conditions will not only distort posture, but also prevent the body from functioning optimally.

Often, the gradual progression toward poor and unhealthy posture can be witnessed over a person’s lifetime. Once the posture has weakened, the forces of gravity are relentless in preventing recovery. The downward gravitational pull contributes to one of the most common postural problems, in which the head protrudes forward and its weight (about as heavy as a bowling ball) pulls constantly on the spine. Chiropractors refer to this as “Forward Head Syndrome.”

When this postural distortion is present many physiological repercussions follow. Research has shown that the body has trouble producing endorphins under these conditions, and that the nervous system often reacts by staying stuck in a “fight or flight” response. The normal curves of the neck and spine are lost as the body tries to compensate for all the pushes and pulls on the nervous system. The body also tends to overreact to this loss by filling in the spaces with calcium deposits and spurs, also known as arthritis. This all adds up to many variations and degrees of discomfort, pain and malfunction.

Researchers have also discovered that poor posture can lead to decreased blood flow, which inhibits oxygen from reaching the tissues effectively. These situations can all conspire to create such things as premature aging, intestinal problems, hemorrhoids and even heart and vascular disease. The good news is that, where posture has degenerated, it can often be restored through a combination of chiropractic adjustments, massage, good nutrition and appropriate exercise programs. By recognizing the importance of posture and being alert to the warning signs of spinal decay, people can make adjustments and lifestyle choices that result in more graceful aging and better health.

Dr. Julie Burke is the owner of Newton Chiropractic & Wellness Centre - Newton, MA, 345 Boylston St., Suite 300, Newton. To make an appointment for massage or chiropractic, call 617-964-3332 or visit