Postural considerations for a comfortable neck etc etc etc

Postural considerations come into clear focus at the top end of our vertebral column, but we need to start at the feet.

Wearing shoes with non slip soles, we can get along quite well without using our toes much.
It requires some effort to remember to push them down and take some weight on them as we move forward over the foot planted on the ground.

It's effort well spent.
This helps maintain the arch of our foot which is the first link in the "kinetic chain" of our lower limb and spinal bones and joints.

You may have had the misfortune to experience this linkage, when every foot fall aggravated a pain in the top of your head.

The anatomy of a foot allows it to safely act as a shock absorber, if the toes are strong. The ligaments of the foot are not strong enough on their own. Without strong muscles the arch can drop, forefoot splay out and shocks are transmitted undiminished up the chain if we jump.

Without our toes taking some of our weight, the other heel strikes more forcefully as we walk and also sends shock up the chain.

Spinal postural curvatures - like our foot arch

Only a little like it - in that they allow for shock absorption, as when we jump off something and land on our feet..

We have a lumbar lordosis, curving backward. Bending fully down forwards involves only straightening of the normal lordosis. Our lumbar spine cannot bend forward more than this.

Our thoracic spine is already bent forward, called kyphotic.
Our neck again has a normal lordosis.
The whole spine acts like a spring.

Posture is dynamic, forever changing with the terrain underfoot

At least that is how it used to be.

One of the unnatural things about modern life, is the floor and footpath - the earth isn't flat. We really have it easy, walking in the developed world.

Too easy, actually.

You can however, make it harder. MBT "anti-shoes' do just that. These have a convex bottom so that you have to continually use your muscles to balance yourself.

Reebok Easytone shoes are another example.

Walking posture is pretty upright, and at the other end of the scale a speed skater is close to horizontal. Good posture always maintains our spinal curvatures.

Exaggerated curvatures with "sway back" or "hunch back" develop from posture habits and consequent weak muscles. Our habits develop from habitual states of mind. We need to 'walk tall" in every sense of the term.

There was an excellent little illustration of Eric's posture Before and after Rolfing, at the Structural Integration site - still available via the internet wayback machine.

Kyphoscoliosis - bent and twisted back

This problem is due to subluxations primarily, at a vulnerable time of life when growth is rapid.

It is really important to treat complaints of backache in teenagers, with care. The thoracic spine page of this site shows how to look for these "hitched joints".

If you are interested in a home study course on examination of the spine, please send me your e-mail address by the contact form.

Our eyes end up level, whatever happens lower down. .

Our brain organizes this. We prefer to have our horizon horizontal.

This refers to sideways postural disturbances, rather than the forward and backward primary spinal curvatures described above.

Spinal zygapophyseal joint subluxations kink the spine sideways, which requires adjustment further up or down the spine to get our eyes level again. The last place this can occur is at the top joint of the cervical spine.

This atlanto-occipital joint often is exactly where the correction is achieved, to get our eyes level again.

Exercises for good posture

My mother emphasized posture with her children, being at one stage a teacher in a Bjelke-Petersen physical training school. She had good posture till her death at the age of 97.

Hans Christian Bjelke-Petersen got to 92, and was a contemporary of Joseph Pilates, whose philosophy and methods are more widely known.

Pamela White has a good site on Pilates type exercises, illustrated with short videos which make it easy to follow them.

A very simple way to check your posture right now, is to see if you can look further over the top of something in front of you, without standing up from your seat or getting up on your toes.

If you're able to do so, by raising the level of your eyes, you have now attained better posture. We are meant to stand tall. You can teach yourself to do this all the time, as a postural (deportment) exercise.

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If you are interested in a home study course on examination of the spine, please send me your e-mail address by the contact form.