Very often after reviewing x-rays where I have identified and measured postural imbalances, patients will ask how these changes could have come about. They are curious why a hip is higher on one side, curvature in the low back is exaggerated, or the head is held forward. Time and again I tell patients that have no history of an accident or injury that the position of their spine is largely related to their posture. Sometimes the possible cause of a patient’s postural distortion is elusive and other times the cause is right before our eyes.
4 Common Causes of Postural Problems:
1. Side carrying
One cause of postural distortion is due to weight being carried more on one side of the body. Common occurrences are carrying children on the hip, schlepping heavy pocket books and frequent use of heavy duffle bags and briefcases. My best advice in these instances is to lighten the load when possible (I understand that children only grow), haul items in a neutral posture with chest/back carriers, backpacks or rolling luggage. And when you have no choice but to sling over a shoulder, alternate shoulders while toting and lay the strap over the opposite shoulder (across the chest).
2. FWIRP – Fat Wallet in Rear Pocket
Ever notice on a pair of men’s jeans that one of the back pockets is stretched out or the material bears a faded, rectangular pattern. If sitting with FWIRP can change denim this way, what is doing to our spines?
Imagine sitting all day long with a brick under one side of your backside. The unleveling causes torsion (twisting) of the pelvis and the spine to bend sideways so we can keep sitting upright, instead of leaning. These changes all happen automatically, so we are not even conscious of the changes taking place. Now, a brick is an exaggeration for most, but illustrates how a thick wallet in your back pocket can affect the body. Especially for desk workers and long distance drivers, slimming your wallet and storing it in your front pocket is a good way to avoid FWIRP syndrome.
3. Sleep Posture
If you are a side-sleeper and not using a pillow or cushion between your knees at night, then you are likely contributing to pelvic torsion. While side-sleeping, if your top knee and leg are not resting on their counterparts below, then the knee is rotating forward, pulling the hip and pelvis into a twisted position. Eight hours every night (hopefully) and it is easy to see how one hip might find itself higher than the other. If you sleep side-lying, consider keeping your hips aligned with a pillow between your knees.
4. High Heels
I would be remiss if I failed to address this phenomenon. Wearing high heeled shoes, especially over 2 inches and worn throughout the day, has a clear effect on low back posture. Heels cause the pelvis to tilt forward and a corresponding increase in the low back curvature. Reduce the effects of these changes by wearing shorter heels (2 inches or less) for less time.
So, hopefully you aspire to better posture and can find a way to incorporate some of the recommendations above. If you have tried some of my suggestions and are still uncomfortable, please call Matthews Chiropractic Center at 704.841.3833 to schedule a consultation and exam. Better spinal health could be just a call away.