Long-Term posture correction requires a 360-degree approach to posture improvement; the 12 Weeks to Better Posture program is exactly that! Throughout these 12 weeks we will be focused on improving the alignment, balance, and movement of your body. More specifically, this program is designed to correct the alignment of your spine with chiropractic adjustments, to re-train dysfunctional muscle patterns through restructuring exercises, to lengthen and stretch chronically contracted muscles, and to re-educate your daily posture habits.

Long-term postural correction is obtained with emphasis of three foundational components: alignment, balance, and movement. Thus, this 12-Week program integrates very specific re-alignment techniques through posture correction, and important exercises to improve the movement of your joints and the balance of your body against gravity. The program is based upon the ABCs of Posture:  Alignment, Balance, and Core Control.

12 Weeks to Better Posture Program: The Structure Of Function. You will begin to learn and develop several basic core exercises. These exercises are fundamental to all the future exercises. It is important that you strive to do these exercises every day, and in a perfect manner. The benefits obtained from this program will only happen if you follow the program as recommended. If at any time you don’t feel you are performing the exercises correctly ask your Certified Posture Expert (CPE) for help.

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

Posture Habit Re-Education

What Is good Posture?

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Maintaining good posture involves training your body to move and function where the least strain is placed on the body. Good posture improves the physiologic function of your body, while improving your appearance.

To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine. In addition, you must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and work to correct them, if necessary.

Your posture has a positive or negative influence on the daily activities that you do. Good posture demonstrates confidence, balance, pain free movement and enhanced physiologic function of your body. Whereas poor posture causes additional stress to the body, spinal degeneration, and diffuse pain.   Simply correcting your posture can enhance the quality of your life and overall health. Good posture promotes movement efficiency and endurance and contributes to an overall feeling of well-being.

The return on investment for better posture will be astounding in later years. We simply cannot afford to neglect our postural needs, especially when so much of our ability to function is riding on the quality of our postural alignment.

5 Principles of Posture

The Five Principles of Posture and Body Motion explain the biomechanics of how our bodies work.

  • Posture Principle 1: Movement- The body is designed to move.
  • Posture Principle 2: Balance- Posture is how you balance your body against gravity
  • Posture Principle 3: Movement Patterns- The pattern of a body’s chain of motion follows the path of least resistance
  • Posture Principle 4: Compensation- The body learns to move in the patterns you teach it; and pain teaches you to move differently
  • Posture Principle 5: Adaptation- Changes in posture and motion cause the physiology of the body to change
The anatomy of good posture
  • Your Spine: Good posture actually means keeping the three curves of your spine in balanced alignment. Misalignments of the vertebrae, or spinal subluxations, cause postural abnormalities.
  • Your Muscles. Strong and flexible muscles also are essential to good posture. Abdominal, hip, and leg muscles that are weak and inflexible cannot support your back’s natural curves.
  • Your Joints. Hip, knee, and ankle joints balance your back’s natural curves when you move, making it possible to maintain good posture in any position.
The Benefits of good posture
  • Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly and efficiently.
    • Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
    • Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
    • Optimizes breathing and circulation
    • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions (for example an abnormal lateral curvature, or scoliosis).
    • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
    • Improves organ function.
    • Prevents strain or overuse problems.
    • Prevents backache, neck pain, and diffuse muscular pain.
    • Contributes to a good appearance.
Perform the “Wall Test”:

To test your standing posture, take the wall test. Stand with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall, and have your heels about 5 to 10 centimeters away from the wall. Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.

Ideally, you’ll feel about one hand’s thickness of space between your back and the wall. If there’s too much space, tighten your abdominal muscles to flatten the curve in your back. If there’s too little space, arch your back so that your hand fits comfortably behind you. Walk away from the wall while maintaining this posture. Keep it up throughout your daily activities.

Ergonomics: Creating good postural habits

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline of creating a safe and healthy work environment and living space to increase human efficiency and prevent injuries. Proper ergonomics are a key component of creating and maintaining good postural habits. For example, many people spend 40 hours a week at work. If your workspace is not designed to be ergonomically efficient, you could be at risk of recurrent micro-traumas or unnecessary strain to the body. And the average person spends 8 hours per night in bed sleeping. Without proper posture during sleep, the body can feel tense and rigid in the mornings.

Consider these following examples to make your daily activities more ergonomically correct and improve your posture. Place the stickers from your posture package in the places where you spend the most time on a typical day. When you see these stickers, this is a reminder to check and maintain proper posture throughout the rest of the day.

Alignment, Balance, & Core Control

Alignment:
Healthy posture starts with the proper position of the spine. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down, gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. When the body is in proper alignment, the bones, not the muscles support our weight, reducing overall effort and strain. The primary objective of the 12-Week Program is to re-align the spine through specific chiropractic treatments of the spinal column. When the spine is in proper alignment, proper posture becomes natural for the body.

Chiropractors are the only doctors in the world trained to detect, analyze, and correct spinal subluxations. By correcting the spinal subluxations (or spinal misalignments), the spine can maintain a straight and balanced position, relieving paraspinal musculature of compensatory stress.

Balance:

The position in which we balance our body to stay erect has a significant effect on our posture. If the spine is not in proper alignment, people generally feel less stable or experience discomfort balancing their body with the proper posture. For example, a person with a hip misalignment will naturally shift their center of gravity to one hip, accentuating the misalignment.

Postural consciousness during daily activities draws attention to proper posture and coordination. By completing a postural corrective program, incorporating chiropractic and Postural Exercises, it has been demonstrated to increase balance and coordination, and reduce the chance of falling by 55% in the elderly.

 

Core Control:

Posture exercises, when incorporated as a lifestyle habit, break the pain cycle and create a cycle of coordinated, full ranges of motion. When a person presents with misalignments of the spinal column, the muscles naturally contract and become more rigid to compensate for these misalignments. This is felt as tightness at the base of the neck and shoulders and stiffness of the low back. To correct muscle dysfunction long-term, it is important to first re-align the spine, then identify the weak and chronically strained musculature. Once the muscular dysfunction patterns are identified, a specific postural exercise protocol can be utilized to re-educate the muscle physiology. Many exercises in the program are specifically designed to increase core strength and core stability to improve posture.

Ergonomics: Creating good postural habits

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline of creating a safe and healthy work environment and living space to increase human efficiency and prevent injuries. Proper ergonomics are a key component of creating and maintaining good postural habits. For example, many people spend 40 hours a week at work. If your workspace is not designed to be ergonomically efficient, you could be at risk of recurrent micro-traumas or unnecessary strain to the body. And the average person spends 8 hours per night in bed sleeping. Without proper posture during sleep, the body can feel tense and rigid in the mornings.

Consider these following examples to make your daily activities more ergonomically correct and improve your posture. Place the stickers from your posture package in the places where you spend the most time on a typical day. When you see these stickers, this is a reminder to check and maintain proper posture throughout the rest of the day.

Shoes with proper support

Shoes with good support are necessary for maintaining good posture. Proper shoes not only provide comfort to the low back and the lower body, but also help to prevent feet problem (such as plantar fasciitis).

  • Provide adequate arch support and are not flat
  • Are flexible, lightweight, and well-balanced
  • If wearing high heels, wide-based short heels are the best option
  • If the soles of the shoe are worn out or are stretched out, consider buying a new pair of shoes

 

Ergonomic Workspace Design
  • Elbows close to your body and at 90 degrees. Keep wrists straight and avoid flexion of the wrists
  • Shoulders are relaxed as opposed to hunched
  • Hips, knees, and ankles are at 90 degrees while seated
  • Feet flat on the ground or on a footrest. For prolonged standing, consider using a mat on hard surfaces
  • Head is upright and the ears are in alignment with the shoulders
  • Eyes looking straight ahead without flexion forward or extension up. Consider the use of a laptop raiser with your laptop if necessary
  • Seat length should be long enough to provide support beneath thighs
  • Backrest should be straight (not leaning back) with adequate lumbar support of the lower back
  • Set up your desk to position frequently used items within a forearm’s length away, and less frequently used items within a stretched out arm’s length away
  • To improve posture during work, sit on the Postural Cushion. This helps to maintain a proper position of the spine while strengthening the core musculature.

 

10 Principles of Ergonomics
  • Work in Neutral Postures: Maintain a neutral position of your body throughout the day by maintaining the natural “S curve” of your spine, keeping the neck properly aligned over the shoulders, elbows at your sides and at a 90 degree angle, and the wrists in a neutral position. When the head and shoulders round forward, it creates a “C curve” of the spine. Be sure to pull your shoulders and head back to keep a nice “S curve.”
  • Reduce Excessive Force: Excessive force on your joints can create a potential for fatigue and injury.  In practical terms, identify specific instances in which excessive force is applied to your body and think of ways to make improvements. Common examples include carrying heavy items by yourself. To reduce excessive forces, utilize proper lifting techniques and ask a friend to help carry the object.
  • Keep Everything in Easy Reach: The items that you use most often, in particular at work, should be within an arm’s reach away. Avoid reaching forward. Simply rearrange your workspace so that the items most commonly used are easily reachable.
  • Work at Proper heights: Working at elbow height is a good way to reduce strain to the arms and shoulders. A good rule to follow is that most work should be done at about elbow height, whether sitting or standing. A good example of this is typing on a computer.
    • There are exceptions to this rule, however. Heavier work is often best done lower than elbow height, and precision work is often best done at eye level.
  • Reduce Excessive Motions: Think about the number of motions you make throughout a day, whether with your fingers, your wrists, your arms, or your back. Avoid doing excessively repetitive movements, especially always to the same side. For example, instead of constantly turning to your right side to perform a task, re-position your workspace in which you can turn to the right or the left. This can help avoid muscular imbalances or overuse injuries. You can also utilize power tools when possible to reduce the strain of your body.
  • Minimize Fatigue and Static Load: Holding the same position for a period of time is known as static load. It creates fatigue and discomfort and can interfere with work. A good example of static load that everyone has experienced is writer’s cramp. You do not need to hold onto a pencil very hard, just for long periods. Your muscles tire after a time and begin to hurt. In the workplace, having to hold parts and tools continually is an example of static load. Having to hold your arms overhead for a few minutes is another classic example of static load, this time affecting the shoulder muscles. Sometimes you can change the orientation of the work area to prevent this, or you can add extenders to the tools. Having to stand for a long time creates a static load on your legs. Simply having a footrest can permit you to reposition your legs and make it easier to stand.
  • Minimize Pressure Points: Another thing to watch out for is excessive pressure points, sometimes called “contact stress.” A good example of this is squeezing hard onto a tool, like a pair of pliers. Adding a cushioned grip and contouring the handles to fit your hand makes this problem better. Leaning your forearms against the hard edge of a work desk creates a pressure point. Rounding out the edge of the desk and padding it can help to reduce stress.
  • Provide Clearance: Work areas need to be set up so that you have sufficient room for your head, your knees, and your feet. This avoids muscle cramping and allows you to move the articulations of your body more freely.
  • Move, Exercise and Stretch: To be healthy the human body needs to be exercised and stretched. Depending upon the type of work you do, different exercises on the job can be helpful. If you have a physically demanding job, you may find it helpful to stretch and warm up before any strenuous activity. If you have a sedentary job, you may want to take a quick “energy break” every so often to do a few stretches. If you sit for long periods, you need to shift postures. Adjust the seat up and down throughout the day, move, stretch, and change positions often. It is ideal to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
  • Maintain a Comfortable Environment: One common concern is proper lighting, concerns include: glare, working in your own shadow, and just plain insufficient light. Be sure there is adequate lighting in your workspace and living space. Also, for people who travel by car often for their jobs, be sure that the car is comfortable. Position the seat so you can maintain a proper posture, or utilize a lumbar support pillow if necessary.
A Healthy Back Has 3 Natural Curves
  • An inward or forward curve at the neck (cervical curve)
  • An outward or backward curve at the upper back (thoracic curve)
  • An inward curve at the lower back (lumbar curve)

Good posture helps maintain these natural curves, while poor posture does the opposite — which can stress or pull muscles and cause pain.

“Core Musculature” and its effect on posture:

The “core musculature” is comprised of several groups of muscles including the transversus abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles work together to produce maximum stability in the abdominal and lumbar region, as well as coordinate movements of the body.

 

A very common cause of low back pain is weak core musculature. When the muscles that support the spine are weak, pain can be triggered by muscle strain, and injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Over time, a muscle injury that has not been managed correctly may lead to an overall imbalance in the spine. This can lead to constant tension on the muscles, ligaments, and bones, making the back more prone to injury or re-injury.

 

Core exercises are an important component of any postural correction program. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core musculature. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities, whereas weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain, and muscle injuries. It pays to get your core muscles in better shape.

Proper posture is a key component to optimal health and wellness:

Perhaps the most important benefit of good posture is that it improves function of the internal organs. When the body is in a slouched forward position (head and shoulders rolled forward), our rib cage is actually pushing down on our internal organs. Common short-term effects are muscular soreness, neck pain, and headaches. Long-term effects include: decreased respiratory capacity, digestive problems, and migraines. If postural imbalances go uncorrected, further consequences may occur throughout the body, such as: spinal degeneration, muscle soreness, and arthritic joints.

Consequences of poor posture:

Good posture is also good prevention. Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you can typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain.

Several factors contribute to poor posture-most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes.  In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.

Check your posture reflection in the mirror:

Perform a posture self check in the mirror each morning. What does your reflection show? Good, strong, confident posture? Or slouched forward and closed posture? Be sure to fix your posture before leaving the house- just as you would do if your hair is out of place.

Three signals of bad posture:

If you experience any of the following three consequences, you should schedule an appointment for a chiropractic adjustment. These signals indicate that your posture is not correct, and there is likely a misalignment of your spine.

  • Incapable of sitting for an hour or more without pain
  • Incapable of standing for an hour or more without pain
  • Experiencing pain, tightness, rigidity, or fatigue when you wake up in the morning
LifeTime Posture

After completing the 12-Weeks to Better Posture program, it is important to continue making posture a priority in your life. Remember, our posture is based upon our lifestyle habits, therefore in order to continue with the progress that you made, you must alter your lifestyle to be ergonomically correct and continue doing postural exercises and chiropractic adjustments. Just like going to the gym, if you follow a strict workout plan for 12 weeks, you are likely to see great results in terms of bodily improvements (losing weight, increased strength, etc). However, after the 12-week period is over, you can’t expect to maintain these results if you then lead a completely sedentary lifestyle.

For maintenance care, it is recommended that you follow the maintenance postural exercise program and get a postural correction between 2 times per month and once every three months (these recommendations are based upon individual needs). This way, you can maintain the progress that you made with your posture, and prevent incorrect alignment and muscular patterns from re-forming in the future.

While in maintenance care, always listen to the needs of your body. If you experience a new trauma or one of the signals of bad posture, you should schedule a posture check right away.

Three Signals Of Bad Posture

If you experience any of the following three consequences, you should schedule an appointment for a chiropractic adjustment. These signals indicate that your posture is not correct, and there is likely a misalignment of your spine.

  • Incapable of sitting for an hour or more without pain
  • Incapable of standing for an hour or more without pain
  • Experiencing pain, tightness, rigidity, or fatigue when you wake up in the morning
Remember These Key Concepts
  • Correct Posture is a long-term solution to increase the function of your body, it is not just a quick fix for pain
  • Your posture today is caused by misalignments of the spinal column, your ergonomic habits, and your postural history
  • Postural imbalances are due to structural misalignments. You must first correct the alignment with chiropractic adjustments, then utilize exercises to support the realignment.
Importance of LifeTime Posture
  • Changes occur naturally in your body as you grow older. These changes can influence your posture and make it more difficult to maintain a good posture or correct a poor posture.Some of the physical changes that occur:
    • The disks between the spinal segments become less resilient and give in more readily to external forces, such as gravity and body weight.
    • Muscles become less flexible.
    • Compression and deterioration of the spine, commonly seen in individuals with osteoporosis, cause an increased flexed, or bent forward, posture.
    • Lifestyles usually become more sedentary. Sitting for long periods of time shortens various muscles, which results in the body being pulled into poor postural positions, and stretches and weakens other muscles, which allows the body to slump.

    Despite the changes that occur naturally with aging, good posture can be maintained and, for many, poor posture improved. In individuals with severe postural problems, such as poor alignments that have existed so long that structural changes have occurred, the poor posture can be kept from getting progressively worse. In any case, all of us must consciously work at achieving and maintaining good posture as we grow older.

Good Standing Posture
  • Keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Pull in your abdomen.
  • Keep your feet about hip distance apart.
  • Balance your weight evenly on both feet.
  • Let your hands hang naturally at your sides.
  • Try not to tilt your head forward, backward or sideways, and make sure your knees are relaxed — not locked.
Good Sitting Posture
  • Choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor while keeping your knees level with your hips. If necessary, prop up your feet with a footstool or other support.
  • Sit back in your chair. If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.
  • Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling, and tuck your chin in slightly.
  • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed — not elevated, rounded or pulled backward.

*Note: it is very important not to have your wallet in your back pocket when seated. When sitting on your wallet, you are creating an uneven balance of the hips. Simply placing your wallet in your front pocket can improve your posture while in the seated position.

Proper Technology Use

Improper posture while utilizing technology, cell phones for example, is a very common factor contributing to poor posture. Next time you send a text message or make a phone call, be sure to consider proper posture. Instead of looking down while sending a text message, bring the phone to eye level to avoid strain to your neck and back.

  • Bring cell phone or Ipad to eye level when sending a text message or searching the internet
  • When talking on the phone, hold the phone to your ear instead of bending your neck to the side to hold the phone
  • With phone calls, another option is to utilize a headset with earphones and a microphone so you don’t have to hold the phone up to your ear.
  • When playing videogames, look straight ahead at the TV. Position yourself with correct posture in a chair
Posture Breaks During Work

Research shows that taking frequent short breaks (micro-breaks) are more effective in preventing aches and pains, than a single longer break in the middle of the day. The purpose of the posture break is to stretch the muscles that become tight from sitting all day. Breaks as short as 20 seconds in length are better than no break at all.

  • Sit on the front of your chair with good posture of your lower back
  • Open your arms wide and push your chest forward
  • Lean head back for a deeper stretch
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