We often dream about retirement as time when we can finally do things in life we like. Whether it is travel, moving to warmer climate, gardening, playing golf, or whatever it is, it all requires health, financial resources, and a happy disposition.
After all, without certain vitality and optimism nothing matters even if we do have enough money.
What we don’t dream about is doctors’ bills, canes and wheel chairs, depression and poverty. We work hard, lead stressful lives, take care of family and kids, save money for retirement, and don’t realize that everything we do today directly affects what we’ll be able to do tomorrow. And I mean it literally – what physical activity we “do” with our bodies, or don’t do as a case may be.
From a postural health perspective, the lack of motion is a number one culprit affecting our ability to function and enjoy life in our retirement years.
What are health-related, financial, and psychological effects of a dysfunctional posture?
Is it just about the back pain?
Today’s post is about the health effects of a posture resembling a question mark – a posture that we commonly associate with an old age. I want to start it with a few words about the anatomy of the spine.
From the side view, the normal spine has an S-curve allowing for an even distribution of weight.
The curve of the thoracic spine that bends outward is called a kyphotic curve. The excessive (abnormal ) curvature of the this area that causes an appearance of a hump is called kyphosis.
The most common type of kyphosis is caused by the muscle imbalances and a bad posture. It is commonly associated with aging. But our modern sedentary life style leads to the same muscle imbalances in much younger people.
Every time we sit down in front of TV, drive a car, or slouch in front of the computer all day long we are depriving our bodies of necessary motion.
Sitting for a long time shortens and tightens the chest muscles pulling a spine forward and shoulders inward. Neck follows and head protrudes forward with it.
At the same time, the upper and middle back muscles stay constantly lengthened and become weak, unable to support a proper posture. Eventually, your back starts resembling a question mark from a side view – we are looking at a Sharp Thoracic Curve.
Not only it looks bad – it feels bad. The more shoulders are rounded the more head is drooping.
“For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.” Kapandji, Physiology of Joints. It becomes difficult to turn the head from side to side or up and down.
Migraines, jaw pain, poor balance, and dizziness will follow. The more thoracic spine curves the less functional the body becomes. The upper back tightness manifests as burning in the area between the shoulder blades and stiff neck.
Since the joints of the upper torso are pulled out of alignment it often leads to numbness in the shoulders, arms, and hands while sleeping or sitting in the chair – due to increased friction in the joints and constricted blood circulation. It could be an underlying cause of the carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff, shoulder, and neck problems.
It does not end with the upper body either. Since the musculoskeletal system works together as a kinetic chain the lower back, hips, knees, and even ankles will be eventually pulled out of alignment.
These are just the immediate musculoskeletal issues that will throw out your back and the joy out of your retirement years.
Stay tuned. Next post will be about digestive issues associated with bad posture.
Be active, live pain free.