No, this is not about 10,000 volts going through a death row inmate!! Rather, this is all about the devastating physiological effects that impact all of us who sit for most of our lives. The statistics are staggering. The average American sits for 9.3 hours a day. We sleep an average of 7.3 hours a day. That leaves us with approximately 8 hours to bring movement into our lives.
As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I cannot help but observe the postures of people everywhere I look. I invite you to stop for a moment and consider those in your life who are 65 years and older. How do most of these people carry themselves? Who has a head that is forward of their shoulders? Who is bent slightly forward from their waist up?
Many of us carry a belief system that states, “Welcome to getting old,” as though this is the expected posturing as we move into our latter years. It is my contention that this is absolutely false and misleading. There is something that we can do to avoid deconditioning, poor function and debilitating postures.
The intention of this article is to address the old adage of taking personal responsibility for your health going forward.
Posture is a huge component for our overall well being. Anyone who slouches creates a pattern that restricts respiration and compresses vital organs (heart and lungs) that were designed over a millennia to function best while we are upright and in motion. Please remember, each time we sit, we reinforce “death by chair.”
I happen to love National Geographic shows on television. I am enamored with the photography that is captured, but also fascinated with the health, vibrancy and postures of the people from these countries where there are no chairs, cars or tables to sit at.
BASIC FACTS TO CONSIDER:
- Our bodies are highly plastic. That is, we mold to the posture and activities that we do most often. So if you are at a computer and you reach forward, 100’s of times a day, and never reach back in the opposite direction to exercise the muscles that hold you up, you will feed the imbalance and faulty position.
- Poor posture when sitting also stimulates a fight or flight state that among other stressors, creates a measurable increase in deadly C-reactive protein, significantly slows our metabolism and negatively impacts cardiovascular health, immunity and digestion—and this is just the beginning of the list of how poor postures negatively effect our overall health and wellness.
WHAT CAN ONE DO?
- Become your own advocate
It is my contention that we are with ourselves 24/7. We absolutely must stay mindful. Commit to a daily 5-10 minute stretching routine. It is imperative to lengthen and relax overused and under stretched muscle and fascia. Always create tissue length (stretch) before training for strength.
- Chiropractic Care
The spine is the foundation for muscle attachments. Hypomobility (less motion) is found in nearly every patient. A “fixed” or stuck middle back predisposes our lumbar (low back) and cervical (neck) spine to increased instability. DON’T IGNORE YOUR SPINE. MAINTAIN MOTION WITH PERIODIC CARE.
- Sit less
Commit to getting up more often from your chair. Consider a more ergonomically designed chair.
- Move better, move often
Age is not an excuse for poor movement. I encourage all of my patients, while viewing your shows, to stretch all of your body parts. It requires little attention and will not distract you from your entertainment. Consider yoga, tai chi, Pilates and other exercise routines that are fun and easy to follow. Maintaining optimal posture and balancing our health is a journey, not a destination. Stress progress, not perfection.
I leave you with the following questions to ponder.
- Does it make sense to put attention on this issue of posture?
- Even if you are consistent with your chiropractic adjustments, what are you doing daily to work on the stressors of your day?
- Where to you want to be in body function 10 years from now?
- Do your daily habits support this desired outcome?
If you don’t participate in addressing these issues of functional balance and posturing, then as your doctor, I become just one more symptom chaser in todays health care system. We will spend our precious lives constantly repairing the effects of the posture and movement challenges we face every day.
AWAKEN THE SPINE
In the last 35 years of my career, I have read hundreds of articles and many books explaining the complexity of the human spine. Through 24 moveable vertebrae, the entire nervous system exists the spine to reach every muscle, organ, blood cell, etc., in the human body. The ability to have the 110 joints of the spine remain supple, relaxed and in motion is the cornerstone of growing old gracefully. Your spine is your lifeline.
It is my hope that this blog helps you realize the precious architecture you were given. Your body will perform in the direct proportion of how you care for it daily. Motion is life. Stay committed to your spine, maintain it and respect it. Your future depends upon it. Your chiropractic care is not a luxury, but rather a necessity because the constant stressors of a sedentary lifestyle (sitting!!) will over time rob you of the fully functioning quality of life that you were meant to live.
Dr. Charles berg
River vale Chiropractic Center