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Perfecting Posture

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We are born in the fetal position with our spines rounded forward. As we grow, our spine extends in both our lower back and neck, which allows us to look straight ahead, walk upright, and use our hands.

We are born in the fetal position with our spines rounded forward. As we grow, our spine extends in both our lower back and neck, which allows us to look straight ahead, walk upright, and use our hands. Unfortunately, modern occupations such as working at computer workstations and lifestyles that involve prolonged sitting in cars, eating, and watching TV have imbalanced our normal upright position.

This forward head posture (FHP) and slouched position is reinforced by gravity, which makes it even harder to maintain normal upright posture. The signs of FHP include: increased pressure on the heels, sway back, roundness of mid-upper back (widows hump), rounded forward shoulders, head forward, and "chin poke."

The weight of a typical head is almost 10 pounds. The head should be centred over the shoulders. For every inch of forward head travel the compressive forces on the lower neck increase by the additional weight of the entire head. This means one inch forward head translation equals 20 pounds head weight, two inches equals' 30 pounds head weight, and so on. Just try this yourself by holding a weight close to your body and then holding it out in front of you. The weight feels heavier depending on how far away it is from your body.

Rectifying Forward Head Posture

First it is important to take a proactive approach. In order to correct FHP you must first assume the "military posture repositioning exercises" to help move you back into the correct position. You should attempt these exercises every 30 minutes to train the nervous and muscular systems to learn a new "habit" Postural muscles require exercising for approximately eight times longer than phasic muscles for gaining strength and endurance. Further, they respond best to isometric exercise procedures.

PDF Diagram: The Military Posture Repositioning

Remember that a three-minute micro break to perform these simple exercises every 30 minutes is far superior to a 15 -minute coffee break every two hours. Current research also suggests that if you have lower back problems then these will not be corrected until you have at least 60 percent of proper head posture.

So sit up straight, let those postural muscles perform their function, and give your spine and ligaments a break.

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