Modern Industrial Living creates Functional Postural Deformity and Negative Physiological Consequences

posture modern living

The impact of modern living choices on our posture is stark and significant.

Poor posture is both initiated or maintained by many of our behaviours and use of personal devices (phones etc.) AND by the stress-load in our bodies leading to dominance of our ‘fear and protection’ neurological reaction as an attempt to keep us ‘alive’.

Posture can be defined as ‘holding the correct relationship and structure of our physical body against the effects of gravitational stress and upright (two-legged) stance/locomotion’ – it is a constant effort by our body and brain / nervous system requiring ongoing coordiantion, comparison, calibration and significant muscular activity/energy expenditure.

It takes a remarkable amount of neurological feedback and constant adjustments to a series of muscles in the body to keep our posture correct - and as a result this is an area that is consistently dysfunctional in the vast majority of us living in a modern industrial (western) environment.

We talk about trauma to the body in scales of overt ‘macro’ trauma – an accident or a fall for example, as well as ‘micro’ trauma.

Modern living contributes to the ongoing impact of poor posture – a consistent micro-trauma that causes our body to enter a ‘fear/protection’ reaction in an attempt to adapt to these forces.

One of the most common postural defomities is anterior (forward, slumped) head carriage; another is a poorly activated deep 'core' leading to tipping forward of the hips. 

The physiological consequences of these postural deformities are significant and 'sap' resources the body could instead be used for promoting homeostatic 'healthy' cellular function.

It is our modern way of living, including many of our standard behaviours/activities which lead to most of us experiencing functional postural deformity as a ‘normal’ state (also called Stress-Strain Toxicity Syndrome).

It is accurate to call this ‘common’…it is NOT normal!

The majority of us sit profoundly more than our ancestors once did, be it at computers, television, driving, or with mobile devices (including games and phones). The only ‘sitting’ our ancestors once did, was holding a squat!

We do not break up this activity, we mostly stay in a specific posture for extended periods of time, we lose awareness of how it is affecting us as we become absorbed in external sources of stimulation.

Add to this the ‘one size fits all’ arrangements in most seating and desks and we have a profound source of strain that the body must respond to. The relative position, height and distance of computer monitors is rarely set to ergonomic standards that can to some degree counteract this stress.

We are walking around, more and more looking constantly down at our devices.

By chronically  holding these unnatural positions, all of the following effects come to be:

  • joint and soft tissue tightening, leading to loss of flexibility
  • muscle loss from disuse, leading to decreased strength,
  • muscle firing errors where the wrong muscles get turned on or they are turned on in an inappropriate/inefficient order, which among other things in this list can lead to increased risk of injury,
  • change of afferent flow patterns (this is the much bigger topic of proprioception vs. stress nerve signals described elsewhere on this site), one effect of which is the interference with healing capacity,
  • changes to breathing dynamics,
  • poor circulation/oxygenation,
  • extra ‘work’ that must be done to maintain these postures where natural positions often require very little energy use to maintain – leading to fatigue,
  • changes to cognition/thought, including increased perception of pain,
  • changes to body-wide physiology including what hormones are released and when,
  • degenerative changes to bone and joint structures,
  • reduction in energy burning capacity, so cells can’t as effectively create enough energy for their needs,
  • and overt pain syndromes of various body areas, including for example the TMJ (jaw) region and headaches.

Chiropractors often talk about the ‘arc of life’ – the appropriate curve in the neck spine vital for correct spinal cord position, tension and motion, as well as that necessary to properly support the head on the neck and shoulders.

It is becoming a rarely acknowledged pandemic of our society the serious and significant of change away from ‘expected normals’ – with even young children and teens often presenting with straightened or reversed neck curves.

Chiropractic care, associated with awareness of the problem (and its causes) and active strategies to rehabilitate or heal such dysfunction is becoming more and more a necessary intervention for many!

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