Is posture really important?

Just reading that title, you probably shifted in your seat.  But more than likely you're reading this on your phone with your head down, so let's quickly reset as you raise your arms and stop giving yourself a headache.

Now, even after that, I'm still going to pose a question to you- is posture important?

Before I answer that question, let's talk about what posture actually is.  Posture is a static representation of the demands you place on your body.  I think a common misconception is that posture is how you should maintain your body during activities, but our bodies are designed to move! For example, if your back was supposed to remain at "neutral", we wouldn't have joints in between the 24 individual vertebrae.

So like I said before, posture is the result of the demands you place on your body.  Whatever you do on a normal basis will lead to how your body "sits" when you're not moving.  This is why I don't believe it's important to place emphasis on "maintaining good posture", because good posture for you may not be good posture for me.

Now before the other chiropractors and therapists who are reading this get upset and tune me out, I want to clarify some things.  By saying that there is not an ideal posture does not mean that there aren't bad postures.  Absolutely.  Things like forward head posture (FHP) is detrimental to health.  The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published a paper this year showing the negative effects of FHP on lung capacity.  FHP also has a correlation to a decrease in EMG activity to the serratus muscles (however, we are unaware which causes the other).  As a sports practitioner, both of those are HUGE for my patients, because lung capacity and shoulder function play major roles in sports performance and health.  So I am not suggesting that we sit back and ignore the signs of bad posture.

What we need to be better at though is start creating better posture outcomes for different populations.  My swimmer is going to have a different posture than my pitcher, and my soccer player will have a different posture than my IT worker.  And that's ok.  They should not look the same IF they are expressing proper function.  That's where we need to draw the line.  We shouldn't be happy with dysfunction, and posture can give us an insight as to what is going on with our patients on a daily basis.

There is a misconception I do want to clarify about chiropractic though- getting an adjustment does NOT realign your spine or your hips.  Over a treatment course, it is an important aspect of creating good function, but just simply receiving an adjustment cannot and does not change your static postural alignment.  What the adjustment does it create better movement within the joints to allow you to express more mobility within the spinal segments, which in course increases endorphin and enkephalin production, which makes you feel better.  But how many times have you received an adjustment, then an hour later you feel the same?  That's like going to the gym once and expecting to be in shape.  It takes time and effort to change your function, and once you have repeatedly put in good function into your body, you can then have proper expression, which is your posture.

So is posture important? Yes. But realize that good posture should not be the end goal, but more of a means by expressing your best function.