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Why do we talk about posture? Why is it that people just know that when they see someone bent over it is probably a sign that something is wrong? Or, when you see someone with really nice posture we find it esthetically pleasing and we think about how healthy the person must be?
Poor posture is one indicator that lets us know that the body is compensating. Compensating for what?
Compensating or adapting to the stress around it.
Your nervous system works to interpret your environment. Stresses can include a multitude of things; they can be emotional, physical or chemical. What is causing the stress for a person? That is a really good question, and one the person has to explore. However, this blog post is about the importance of good posture.
We, as humans, are meant to walk, run, jump…really we are meant to play in this thing called ‘life’.
In order to do that, we have a body to move around. Muscles attach to bone, and we move our bones around with our muscles.
Proper posture constitutes proper alignment of the spine. When we look at someone from behind we want to see a balanced pelvis, shoulders and skull. That means we do not want to see someone tilting their head, or dropping a shoulder or hip. From the side, we want the ears over the shoulders and an ‘S’ curve from the side; made from your neck, upper back and lower back.
The curves of the spine are meant to carry our weight against gravity. The curves for the spine look like an ‘S’ when viewed from the side. This alignment allows for even distribution of weight and flexibility of movement.
There have been many studies that have researched the forward head posture that we see far too often in our society. (ie. your head/ears are forward from your shoulders)
One study was mentioned in a Mayo Clinic Health Letter back in March 2000. It mentioned that, “Long-term forward neck posture leads to “long-term muscle strain, disc herniations and pinched nerves.”
Another study in regards to respiratory dysfunction in chronic neck pain patients, “demonstrated a strong association between an increased forward head posture and decreased respiratory muscle strength in neck patients.” (Cephalgia, February 2009)
And it was found in another study that “for every inch of forward head posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounts.” (Kapandji, Physiology of the Joints, vol 3)

Dr. Alg Breig, a neurosurgeon, found with his research that “loss of the cervical curve stretches the spinal cord 5-7cm and causes disease.”
So what does all this mean? These are just a few studies on forward head posture. I did not even scratch the surface of all the research on lower back pain, or scoliosis (a crooked back).
It means that the alignment of the spine, or your posture, is super important for the function of your body. The nerves that supply the muscles you move, and the organs that keep you alive, come from the brain down the spinal cord and out to the appropriate area, and back again to the brain. Your nervous system picks up information from your environment and sends that information to your brain and there is the body-brain loop, over and over again.
Dr. Roger Sperry received a Nobel Prize for his physiology research. He demonstrated that 90 percent of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body to gravity. “90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine.”
That is huge! No wonder posture is so important. Your physical body has to stand upright against gravity. Its movement relays information to the brain and the brain has to interpret it. The idea is that when you have forward head posture, your brain will rob energy from your thinking and metabolism to deal with abnormal gravity/posture relationships.
So no wonder the person bent over with a low hip that you see walking oddly is so tired. There is a huge expenditure of wasted energy. Not to mention aberrant movement. You can guess that they probably have some sort of health issue.