Standing for prolonged periods of time on a packed tube, hanging onto a bus handrail, and walking to and from the office can take its toll. Our bodies and spine can be compromised if we are not aware of the impact and load we are placing on ourselves.
Posture is defined as the position of the body in space. It is the relationship and alignment of the body parts—head, trunk, and limbs—to each other. Changes in posture occur when any part of the body is moved.
Unevenly loading the body and spine has a knock on chain reaction of how the body functions. Not only does it change and put stress and pressure bio-mechanically through the body, poor posture can also effect digestion, gait, energy, breathing capacity, knee and ankle stability, mental alertness and mood. Underlying instabilities and problems can be intensified too. The body will also compensate for added load and can increase your risk of scoliosis and early degeneration.
A recent study by Harvard University showed that slouching and poor posture increases stress. People who adopted bio-mechanically powerful postures (open shoulders and straight spines) had a 20% rise in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in Cortisol (the stress hormone). “Shallow chest breathing strains the lungs and taxes the heart. The heart is forced to speed up to provide enough blood for oxygen transport. The result is a vicious cycle, where stress prompts shallow breathing, which in turn creates more stress.”
It clearly would not make sense to work out, for example our upper body, with 20kg on the right side and 10 kg on the left. But in essence this is what we are doing by poorly loading our spine and body.
Now we know it’s not possible to leave the house with just your oyster card, but lightening the load is a great start as well as using a bag with two straps instead of one. Making sure you switch a one-strapped bag to alternate shoulders and engaging your core when carrying added weight, like you would do at the gym, especially on the moving tube will all help balance your posture. Also remember to sit square in your seat (if your’e lucky enough to get one!) and avoid crossing your legs.
Another great way to help support your spine is to strengthen the surrounding muscles to act like a corset, and to protect and stabilise your structural frame as much as possible. Of course being checked by your Chiropractor and adjusted where and when is necessary, will always keep your spine and body at its optimum!