Not too long ago, I was interviewed for an article regarding posture for the Toledo Blade published 10/09/2022 titled “Good posture helps your physical and mental health more than you may realize”. Below is the copy of that article. I do feel fortunate as this is the second article which I have been sought out and interviewed for in the Toledo Blade this year.
And in case some are curious, click here to read the other article. And as I have had many ask why I am referred to as Mr. Royer in both articles instead of Dr. Royer, click here to read my response to the first article since it was concerning the chiropractic profession.
Good posture helps your physical and mental health more than you may realize
By Tom Henry – The Toledo Blade
Sit up straight. Don’t slouch when you walk, either…
Mothers and grandmothers have imparted such advice for generations.
But many people may not know that good posture develops more than just confidence and good manners. It also results in healthier lifestyles, probably even better mental health.
First off, let’s be clear: Being a couch potato or slacker is OK for a few minutes at a time every now and then.
But making a habit of slumping over for prolonged periods can affect your core, your spine, and your body’s alignment – and that can cause or exacerbate a whole host of medical issues, some of which can lead to muscle imbalances, unnecessary surgeries or dependence on painkillers and opioids later in life, experts said.
Headaches, back pain, hip pain, knee pain, foot pain, herniated discs – the list of conditions caused by or exacerbated by bad posture goes on and on. Chronically rolling shoulders inward instead of back and down can even make it harder to breathe, according to Bryan Royer, owner of Harmony Chiropractic Center, Inc., of Sylvania.
“Extra pressure will cause your posture to get worse and worse,” he said. “You don’t want to spend four hours slumped in a chair.”
Ever wonder why a so many seniors get surgeries for torn rotator cuffs even though they haven’t been engaged in hard, physical activity for years?
“It’s literally all posture-related,” Mr. Royer said. “Most 70-year-olds aren’t spiking volleyballs.”
Posture problems have existed almost as long as humans have been on Earth.
But there’s a newer phenomenon rooted in digital technology that’s been gaining attention.
It’s called “Tech Neck” or, if you prefer, “Text Neck Syndrome.”
Both are the same, a condition in which more stress is being placed on our neck muscles than in the past because of the greater number of hours people are looking down at their cellphones, laptops, tablets, and other devices.
People who hold their head perfectly straight put, on average, 10 pounds of pressure on their neck. Tilt it down only 15 degrees and then it become 27 pounds of stress. At a 60-degree angle, it’s like putting a 60-pound weight on your neck, Amy Jackson, a ProMedica Total Rehab physical therapist, said.
“That puts a lot of stress on our spine,” she said.
Yes, occasionally, we have our digital toys at eye level. Some people clamp their cellphones into desktop tripods for their Zoom conferences so they can look into the camera at eye level and keep their hands free, for example.
More often than not, though, we’re spending an inordinate amount of time looking down at, say, cellphones in the palms of our hands or laptops resting on our knees, according to Brittany Wilkewitz, an instructor and studio manager of Yogaja Yoga on Central Avenue, in the Cricket West Shopping Center in West Toledo.
“Standing desks help, but they don’t solve the issues,” she said.
Posture can be affected by how sedentary people are, too.
“We are moving beings,” Ms. Wilkewitz said. “Our bodies are supposed to move.”
Ms. Jackson agreed that standing desks help some, but should not be used in place of occasional movement.
“One of the best things people can do is move,” she said. “We like to say, ‘Movement is Medicine.’”
Being aware of the importance of good posture helps.
Experts encourage people to think about it and to work at it, whether it’s sitting straight or doing exercises to stretch your chest muscles that may be impinging on back and shoulder muscles.
An easy one to do is stretching your chest by putting your hands on a doorway, Ms. Jackson said.
“Our posture is how our muscles work with our skeleton,” she said. “The activities we do can create muscular imbalances.”
In the mood
Posture is a chicken-or-egg thing when it comes to mood, Mr. Royer said.
“Your posture is a reflection of your attitude,” he said.
Those suffering from depression and anxiety tend to have worse posture than those who are confident and feeling in command. But it’s unclear if bad posture is a contributing factor or a result of mental health issues, Mr. Royer said.
One of the more common ways people develop aches and pains in their necks is from driving.
They may not think of driving as a bad-posture moment, but people often tense up and move their heads forward farther than they should when they’re behind the wheel of an automobile. There also can be other issues affecting the back and hips based on how the car seat is positioned, he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has helped in that regard by decreasing the time spent on commuting for some people. But there are so many other tradeoffs from the pandemic – from too much time spent on the couch to even more time spent on laptops and other devices – that it’s kind of a toss-up in trying to figure out the pandemic’s overall impact on posture, Mr. Royer said.
Physical therapists and other health professionals can design regimens to help improve posture. Treatments can last a long time, depending on the individual and his or her circumstances.
Ms. Wilkewitz said she also deals with a condition called interior pelvic tilt. It’s one in which the pelvis is rotated forward, forcing the spine to curve. According to healthline.com, it’s often caused by excessive sitting without enough exercise and stretching to counteract the effects of sitting all day.
“The pelvis is the epicenter,” she said. “Little changes can happen over time to make people stand taller and have better posture. You don’t have to be an athlete.”
Strengthening the body’s core is important. The core goes well beyond abdominal muscles to include much of the body between the neck and the pelvis.
“When you walk, are you holding yourself upright?” Ms. Wilkewitz asked.
Breaking bad habits can be challenging, but they lead to good results.
“The key about it is just being consistent,” Mr. Royer said.