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The Key to Improving Your Posture

Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or saw a picture of yourself and noticed your shoulders are rounded and your head is sagging forward and thought, I really need to improve my posture? Then you stand or sit up straighter for about 30 seconds until you stop thinking about it or your muscles become sore and fatigued and you fall back into your old habit.

The truth is, posture (good or bad), is a neurological habit. Your body is simply responding to your brain’s commands.

This habit is formed by an accumulation of different stresses that shift your body into a stressed or sympathetic state-meaning we are ready to fight a bear versus relaxing to have lunch with it. These stresses, a combination of physical, emotional and chemical that we all encounter throughout our lives cause our nervous system to become stuck in a sympathetic state. In this state our bodies adopt a head forward, rounded posture. Even when we feel relaxed, our physiology is in fight or flight mode, our structure will follow causing what we call poor posture. It is very difficult to combat “poor posture” solely with conscious awareness. Trying to hold better posture definitely plays a role but will only get you so far. You can’t fight what your brain in telling your body to do.

To correct this we need to work to get our nervous system into a more balanced state. We can achieve this partly through lifestyle habits and self-care in addition to postural awareness. Meditation is one of the most effective methods of self-care to bring balance back into your nervous system and stimulate para-sympathetic activity. Regular exercise is another way to activate the para-sympathetic system and balance out the stress response. Who doesn’t feel better after exercise?

The para-sympathetic side of your nervous system is calming and allows for healing and repair to occur in your body. It also enables the pre-frontal cortex, the decision making and creative part of our brains, to work more effectively. When we do things such as meditate and exercise we are allowing our bodies to shift into this para-sympathetic state and our bodies begin to heal and repair on their own.

In our office we measure the state of your physiology with a test called Heart Rate Variability (HRV). With this test we can objectively measure the balance between sympathetic (stress) and parasympathetic (repair) activity in your nervous system. This test also gives us information on how much reserve you have to be able to adapt and handle more stress. When people first come into our office we can see the accumulation of stress in their HRV results but also in their posture. Tension builds in the body creating stress on the joints and the muscles and they begin to have painful episodes.

Patients under chiropractic care see and unwinding of this tension. As this is happening, posture begins to change. We use a gentle technique called Torque Release that is stimulating the nervous system. Postural change happens because, post-adjustment, the brain can communicate for effectively with the body. We also see HRV changes as we track your progress. This positive effect of chiropractic on HRV has also been demonstrated in research.

Your posture follows your nervous system state. If you are having postural challenges, we can help. Contact us today!

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