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Checking Your Posture: A Wholistic View From Head to Toe I

BY Justin Flinner, LAc, MAc, Dipl. Ac.

As you begin reading this article, what position is your body in? Are you sitting down, standing up, lying down, or walking down the street perhaps? Whatever position you are in, stop and observe your posture. Would you consider this position "good posture"? If not, what would you change and how? Chances are after reading these questions, you made an adjustment to your posture or at the very least thought about it. Here are two more questions for you. Why do you think the posture changes you made are in fact positive adjustments? How do you know? Bad Posture Takes Time As a health professional working in the industry for 20 years, I am stunned by the countless people suffering from the posture they are placing themselves in day after day. Of course, though, "bad posture" does not occur overnight, it takes time. Our bodies are built with protective mechanisms that help us unconsciously compensate through postural adjustment for injuries that make it difficult to place our bodies in certain static positions or move through normal ranges of motion. These mechanisms become learned responses that, if the injury requires a longer healing time, move towards becoming an unknown habit. Take this patient, for example: Jennifer is a typical middle-aged office worker who spends the majority of her work week in a chair staring at a computer screen and sitting in back-to-back meetings. She decided to visit me for neck pain that comes and goes and ranges in severity from a 2 to an 8 out of 10. When she first arrived, I noticed that her head shifted off to one side just slightly, but I did not bring it to her attention right away. Interestingly, the direction her head shifted was towards the same side she was experiencing the neck pain. Later in our conversation, I brought this observation to her attention and she didn't believe me, until I asked her to look in the mirror. She was absolutely shocked that she never noticed it before and even more shocked that all of the health practitioners she had been to for the pain had not seen it either. It was obviously too subtle for her to notice, and furthermore, it didn't feel out of the ordinary. What was the cause? It turns out, while using her computer at work for long periods of time, she would often get tired quickly and lean to the right side onto her desk while she maneuvered the computer mouse with her right hand. Over time, this change in position, due simply to lassitude, unconsciously formed into a debilitating habit. Aside from this, there was no other indication, past or present, that pointed to an event that might have led to the neck pain. Furthermore, she had been at the same job for nearly 15 years. She is lucky that all she had was neck pain!

(To be continued......)

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