Did you have those parents that always told you to “Sit
up straight”, “pull your shoulders back” and “don’t slouch!”. At the time you
may have rolled your eyes and thought how annoying your parents were, but the
fact is you should have been going up to them, giving them a big hug and saying
You see posture is more than just an aesthetic thing.
Yes, we look much better when we stand up tall and pull our shoulders back but
the effect our posture has on our health goes much further than just what it
First Let’s think about what poor posture looks like.
Usually we see that the head drops forward, our shoulders become rounded and our low back sways out. All you have to do is look at your child or colleague sitting at a computer to see this posture. This posture also tends to cause things like back pain, neck pain and headaches. When we think about what this posture looks like you could say it looks like we are ready to run or we are ready to fight – this is a result of the sympathetic nervous system.
Sympathetic Dominance & Posture
When our sympathetic Nervous System (our fight or flight
response) is activated we tend to default into this posture. This is due to
activation of parts of our brain stem that drive this response. Not only does it
cause our head to fall forward and our shoulders to roll but we also get
tensing of the hamstrings, buttocks and shoulder muscles. The sympathetic
nervous system activates in times of perceived stress and unfortunately in
today’s society this is pretty much a daily occurrence. Stress can be from a
physical, chemical or mental/emotional cause and most people today are
bombarded with multiple stressors daily. When this becomes a chronic occurrence,
it is likely you are suffering from something we call Sympathetic Dominance.
Usually with sympathetic dominance the stressor comes
first causing our body to react and trigger this posture. This is an automatic
function which means we have no conscious control over it. The issue doesn’t
stop there though. When we are in this poor posture our body is sending
constant feedback to the brain constantly communicating that it is in this
position and is ready to fight or flight on demand. This then creates a
negative feedback loop where the stressor is coming in telling your brain to be
stressed and your posture is also sending messages saying you should be
stressed. All this happens without our actual conscious control.
Having this posture can also be detrimental to other
areas of your health. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated it means
that our parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) is suppressed.
These 2 systems work like a seesaw constantly trying to balance each other out.
Our parasympathetic system controls things such as digestion and repairs
everything in our body while we sleep. When this system isn’t allowed to work
then we start seeing issues in other areas of our health.
How can we help our posture?
Previously I mentioned that this typical poor posture
happens without our conscious control so doesn’t that mean we can’t fix it?
Well that certainly isn’t the case. There are many things we can do to
influence our posture and therefore help switch off our sympathetic nervous
system. The best thing about it is these tips are not hard to do!
Fixing your posture
proper ergonomics when using your phone/tablet/computer
a posture pole daily
posterior muscles such as your glutes, lats and the muscles in between your
anterior muscles such as your pecs and hip flexors. It is also important to
stretch your hamstrings.
adjusted by your Chiropractor
Chiropractic adjustments helps ensure proper communication
between the brain and body and vice versa. This will help to optimise the
activation of your outer brain which will help calm down your brainstem (where
the sympathetic activation comes from)
If you want more information on this then we recommend
reading the book SD Protocol by Dr Wayne Todd and if you have any questions on
posture then we would love to hear from you either in the practice or via
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