Submitted by Frederick Schurger, DC, Upper Cervical Springfield
Good posture — we all know it “looks” good when we stand up straight. Mom told us to do it repeatedly. We may not have realized it at the time, but when we look at a potential mate, slouched posture is actually a turn-off! For years, chiropractors have been advocating the focus on improving the curve of the spine through adjustments, traction, and neck pillows. But, does better posture actually improve your health?
There have been numerous scientific articles published over the years showing that improved posture correlates with improved athletic performance. Anterior head syndrome, a secondary condition to neurostructural shift has been linked with conditions such as irritated nerves, blood vessels (thoracic outlet syndrome), muscle tissue, and pain. It has also been linked to conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic strains, early degeneration, and arthritis. A new article published in the journal Brain Circulation puts real numbers to the effects of poor posture.
Katz et. al. studied a group of men and women with abnormal neck curves using both x-ray analysis and an MRI angiogram (MRA) analysis of blood flow into their brain. When they forced the neck into a proper curve, they found that it improved blood flow into the brain by 200 percent. This is very exciting because it shows definitively (possibly for the first time) that improvement of curve of the neck improves blood flow. This is important because one of the main hypothesis associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia is a lack of blood flow into the brain, a condition called chronic cerebellar hypoxia. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also evidence to support poor blood flow to the brain is associated with ADHD in children.
Good posture and good health is super simple then! You just need to stand up straight and tall and all of your worries about neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s go away, right? Wait, you can’t stand up straight and it hurts to do so? Does your “standing up straight” resemble Igor from Young Frankenstein? When we’re young, it’s a little easier to stand up straight, but you’d be amazed at the number of children that come into my office that, regardless of all the poking and prodding by their mother, cannot maintain good posture.
Is it your fault that you can’t stand up straight, or is there something else involved that is keeping you from standing up straight?
As it turns out, I commonly find the answer to this problem is addressed by correcting neurostructural shifts at the base of the skull. In some literature, the second bone in the neck is called “the root,” though it is more commonly called the axis. This area of the spine is a host to many major inputs into your brain, including your posture, balance, and coordination centers. The same center of your brain that’s responsible for your posture, in some cases, can lead to dizziness and vertigo.
For many young athletes, a neurostructural shift can lead to decreased athletic performance on the field, which can include loss of focus, increased injuries, or increased fatigue. A quick check to see how your child’s posture is affecting their running is to take a look at their shoes. If one side is wearing quicker than the other, they have an asymmetrical load on one side of their body due to spinal imbalance from a neurostructural shift.
So, what can we do to improve our posture? For starters, let’s pay attention to the advice our parents gave us growing up and start by sitting or standing up straight and tall for every inch we were given. Next, we need to improve our relationship with technology and keep our cellphones, iPads, and laptops up in front of us, instead of down in our laps, which aggravates “tech neck.” Neck pillows for sleeping will also help to some degree. To know exactly how poor your neck curve is, you need to visit a qualified health professional who knows exactly what the health of your spine looks like. This is where your friendly neighborhood chiropractor can help evaluate you for Anterior Head Syndrome and neurostructural shifts in your spine, as well as recommend a course of care to correct any spinal imbalance that you have.
At Upper Cervical Springfield, we focus on the root of the spine in a unique way, correcting this area and then guiding you to improve those curves and postures over time. While we often see many extreme cases like vertigo, trigeminal neuralgia, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, we also help with issues like neck and back pain. For some, those conditions may be precursors to more severe issues. Increased blood flow to the brain suggests that every person on the planet would benefit from getting their head on straight, even if it just slows down the cognitive decline. We all have to go some day. I just want to keep my wits about me when I do.
As an engineer, Dr. Schurger looks at the whole body as a system to determine what is best for each patient. Custom spinal imaging is performed for each patient in order to create a custom correction. Dr. Schurger has transformed himself through the ketogenic diet and offers nutritional advice to help patients improve their overall health (weight loss being a side effect). His practice, Upper Cervical Springfield is at 450 S. Durkin Drive, Ste. B, Springfield. Call 217-698-7900 to set up a complementary consultation to see if he can help you with a neurostructural shift in your spine.
Sources available upon request.
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