That title is a little misleading, because posture is not the realm of chiropractic. Bear with me for a minute. To understand how posture works, we need to first understand a little bit more about how the body functions.
When a body is functioning normally, you have normal posture. Normal posture for you is different than normal posture for me. Though very similar in structure, our spinal bones and disks are slightly different shape, structurally. We also have different weight, different muscle structure, and so on. But the ultimate determinant of posture is how the nervous system is functioning, because the nervous system controls every single function of the body, including how your muscles erect your body, ie. posture.
Here’s an easy way to prove this. Normal posture for any individual depends on normal nerve supply to themuscles controlling posture. This is most evident in acute antalgic cases. Most chiropractors have seen someone in an acute antalgic position come into the office (see right). Maybe even you have been in this position. Even if this guy tries to have good posture and stand up straight, he couldn’t. The pain would be too excruciating. His nervous system is so impaired it is causing muscles to contract very tightly on the left without his voluntary control. If nerves control postural muscles in antalgic cases, it’s most certainly true that nerves control postural muscles in normal posture.
So does chiropractic fix posture? Nope, it wasn’t designed to. What chiropractic does is help your body function normally. When your body functions normally, you have normal posture . . . for you.
Here’s a quick understanding of chiropractic. Chiropractic recognizes the life principle. Life flows over the nervous system from the brain down thru the spinal cord out to each and every organ, cell, tissue, muscle, gland, etc. Cut off the head, the life source is severed, the body dies. Cut a nerve going to the bicep, it can’t flex. Cut the nerve to the testes, they can’t produce testosterone. Cut the nerve to the lungs, the lungs can’t breathe. Body function is dependent entirely on the integrity of the nervous system.
Normal nerve impulses that send life giving messages to the body, depend on the mechanical integrity of the spine. The spine is designed to protect the nerves, as depicted below.
Our bodies are constantly adapting to the physical stresses of sitting at a computer, in a car, working out; or the chemical stresses of the pollutants in the water, air, or food; or the emotional stresses of work, finances, and relationships. When these forces overwhelm the body and the body can’t adapt, it can result in subluxation. At this point, the bones move out of place and instead of protecting the nerves, the spine actually irritates the nerve and interferes with those nerve impulses going to the body parts. Chiropractors call that subluxation, depicted below. A subluxation is a misalignment of the vertebrae that creates pressure on the nerves, that interferes with the flow of normal life energy to that body part. Subluxations is associated with the body functioning abnormally.
An easier visualization is depicted below:
When you’re subluxated, and the bones of the spine that are supposed to protect that nerve is now interfering with it, the body is not functioning normally. Some organ, gland, or muscle at the end of that can also be impaired someway. Since life is always trying to survive, the spine will bend, twist, turn, and do whatever is necessary to keep the pressure off those nerves. This process can happen whether it is readily visible to the naked eye, ie. posture will always change. Sometimes when the pressure is so severe, in the body’s best attempt to survive, the body will force you into an antalgic posture via the universal language known to all mammals, pain. The consequences for not accepting the antalgic posture is pain.
Here’s a guy with poor posture, termed by the medics “torticolis.” He can’t straighten his neck.
Every once in a while after a chiropractor comes along and adjusts an antalgic person, and immediately once pressure is released on the nerves, he can stand straight up. This doesn’t happen all the time (after one visit), but quite frequently it does. Hence, the nervous system is associated with posture. These pre and post spinographs were shot 4 days apart. Incidentally, his neck was not adjusted.
Therefore, we do not work on improving your posture, only your body does. What I mean by that, is that for your body to develop normal posture FOR YOU, depends on a lot of factors including muscle strength, shape of the bones, weight of the person,etc.. However, to develop a normal posture for you, one thing is certain. The body should have a properly working nerve supply to the postural muscles.
Posture is just one of the things that are associated by a subluxation. When there is interference with the nerves, the body causes the muscles to contract, bending, and twisting the spine so that the holes remain as wide open as they can for its survival. The body compensates to this position, often times resulting in acute antalgic posture. If the pressure is in the low back, the wisdom of the body is smart enough to alter posture instead of altering the nerves that go to the sex organs, intestines, and bladder. Shut down of those functions would be catastrophic.
All a chiropractor does is identify subluxation and give and adjustment to correct it. Once that happens, normal life energy from the brain thru the spinal cord, thru the spinal nerves, can again flow freely, allowing normal muscle contraction and relaxation. At this point, the body can regain its normal posture.
Post-adjustment, many chiropractors choose to stretch and strengthen the muscles. However, this falls outside of the realm of chiropractic. This should handled by those expert in muscle training and postural exercises.
Having poor posture isn’t why you should get checked by your chiropractor. Most often, people are subluxated and don’t even know it, until the body begins breaking down which may manifest itself in anyway possible, including lack of coordination, strength, arthritic joints, weak cardiovascular performance, any symptom known to man (as proved by Speransky), poor performance on the job, mental type issues, and of course health. There is no point in waiting for symptoms to show up, for they are many times the product of years of abnormal function, as in the case of the heart attack of the jogging legend and seemingly “healthy” Jim Fixx. Though he looked like he had reached the pinnacle of health, healthy people who workout don’t generally get heart attacks. His body had to be functioning abnormally to begin with.
Chiropractors do one thing and one thing only. Correct the subluxation, thereby allowing normal for the entire body, not just the muscles. It is the job of personal trainers to strengthen the muscles. I’ve personally known and seen some amazing results from Robert Budd of Bam Bam Culture who is a specialist in postural correction. In the end, muscle strengthening is in the realm of personal trainers, not the chiropractor.
So whatever you are doing in life, make sure your body is working at it potential. Get adjusted and get normal. And if you want to strengthen your back, see your personal trainer. They are experts in muscles. Chiropractors are the only profession that corrects subluxation.
Gohl Clinic of Chiropractic