Oh, My Aching Back (Neck and Legs, Too!)
It is thought that the average person thinks about 60,000 thoughts per day; just how many of those thoughts do you think are about good posture? Not many. In fact, thoughts such as “standing straight,” “not slouching,” and “elbows off of the dinner table” are fairly uncommon throughout our day to day lives. Unfortunately, proper posture and body alignment are more of a practiced behavior requiring the conscious mind versus a natural habit.
The Los Angeles Sentinel has identified the top five consequences of poor posture; tension headaches, diminished breathing, fatigue, back pain and an increase in the aging process. Our daily lives “breed” poor posture. We sit hunched and rounded over our workstations, glaring into tiny computer screens, answering countless E-mails, all the while glued to our telephones with our necks cricked to the side deep in conversation. Hardly properly aligned in the slightest.
“Over time, we begin to slouch and we learn poor posture. Poor posture sabotages your figure and health, making you appear older, unglamorous, unhappy and tired. Over time, this will develop into the popular dowager’s hump, double chin, pot belly and sway back. Internally your body will develop varicose veins, pinched nerves, heart and muscle strain.” From the Chicago Center for Anti-Aging.
No wonder the human population suffers from so many uncomfortable aches and pains; poor posture inevitably leads to arthritis, migraines, hypertension, sciatica, sore neck and back and even insomnia. Not to mention the need for daily medication or an expensive chiropractic bill each month!
Gravity certainly plays an integral role in our alignment, as we are constantly balancing and re-distributing the gravity forced upon our muscles and joints. Frank D’Ambrosio of The Southern California Orthopedic Institute compared the human posture to that of the foundation of a building; “An architect has to take these same laws of gravity and weight distribution into account when he or she designs a building. And like a building with a poor foundation a body with poor posture is less resistant to the strains and stresses we experience over the months, years and decades of life.
When doctors or therapists look at someone's posture they generally first look at the alignment of the weight bearing joints in standing. Ideally from a back view the spine should have no lateral curvature and the legs should be symmetrical without undue angulation at the knees or ankles. From a side view the spine should form a smooth S-shaped curve, bisected by an imaginary plumb line dropped from the apex of the head through the center of gravity of the body. This same plumb line should pass through the tip of the shoulder, the center of the hip joint and ankle joint and slightly behind the knee joint. With this ideal alignment the body weight is balanced over the spine and lower extremity joints requiring minimum muscular effort. This alignment also evenly distributes pressure on the intervertebral discs and avoids excessive stress on the ligaments.”(source: The Southern California Orthopedic Institute Online).
Fortunately, there are many helpful tools to help us improve our posture and the health of our spines. Ergonomically designed chair cushions, orthopedic leg, back and body pillows, to even inversion tables specifically come to mind. Contour Living has specialized in the art of promoting proper alignment and overall great sleep health. Their top-selling products are of the highest quality, improving alignment during both day and night.
Recommendation for the car or work space: The Freedom Back Support Cushion. What better way to endure the 8-hour workday than with a full-length back support cushion with soothing massage? The cordless, battery powered massage cushion features 10 zones for great alignment and support in any chair. Inspired by the body’s natural posture and designed to fit the curves of your back, the spinal groove also provides a place for your spine to comfortably rest while the full-size back supports from your shoulder blades down to your tailbone. Check it out here in our seating cushion category
The Freedom Seat Chair Cushion - In addition to our Freedom Back Seat Cushion, another wonderfully crafted design awaits; our ergonomic seat cushion provides 7 distinct features to improve your back comfort while seated. The contoured surface provides comfort, reducing uncomfortable stress and pressure built up during prolonged seating. The “zero pressure tailbone cutout” for the coccyx area minimizes direct contact between the tailbone and seat cushion surface. It fits comfortably anywhere you go, great for in home use, wheelchairs, in the car, plane and of course, the office chair.
Recommendation for Leg Pillow: The Contour Leg Pillow. This unique pillow relieves back strain by properly aligning both the knees and hips during sleep. With more than 7 million Contour Leg Pillows sold, our most popular leg pillow fits the curves of your legs so it stays with you comfortably throughout the night. No more wrestling with that big, bulky pillow.
Recommendation for a Back Support Pillow: The Contour Flip Pillow. The newest wedge design skillfully combines a pillow with a wedge to be used as a back wedge, a pillow or combine for any position. Whether it’s a sleeping position, upright, relaxed or inclined, your loved ones can relax and rejuvenate like never before!
Recommendation for Full Support Body Pillow: Contour BackMax Back and Body Pillow with Massage. This is the deluxe version of our best-selling BackMax Back and Body Pillow. This is a complete, multi-functional back support wedge cushion system, with not only soothing massage but crafted extra-wide for optimal comfort for the whole body. This design allows space to rest your arms and back in total support, even when using the BackMax on top of a higher bed or mattress.
In essence, proper posture is important to prevent or rid of any of the previous mentioned ailments. Here are five reasons to try to incorporate “standing straight” or “no slouching”: Proper posture promotes confidence, facilitates proper, calm breathing which also promotes better focus and concentration, and helps to avoid unnecessary health complications for a healthy future! Think smart!