Upright Posture: Opportunities & Challenges
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Upright posture is uniquely a human phenomenon. In upright posture the skeletal system is placed in a vertical line with the head and torso above the hips and feet. Upright posture has placed specific biomechanical requirements on our skeletal system. Upright posture has drastically changed the center of gravity placing most of the body weight load on to the spine and discs. The spine developed a 'S' curve to help distribute this load and force similar to that of a spring. Two forward or extended curves in your neck & low back and a backward or flexed curve in your mid back.
Downside of Upright Posture
All the additional load placed on the spine no wonder back problems are so common; 80% of the population will experience back pain at least at one point in there life. Back pain is also the greatest cause of disability globally. Humans have increased prevalence of disc herniations compared to other primates. Upright posture has also been shown to accelerate vertebral and disc degeneration in rats. Upright posture also creates a plumbing issue for proper lymphatic and veinous drainage from the skull but we will get more into that in a later blog post.
Was it worth it?
Absolutely, despite the excess stress it has placed on the spine Upright posture has been extremely advantageous to humans. It has provided an improved visual vantage point of the environment. Most importantly it has allowed our upper limbs freedom from locomotion so they can be used for more sophisticated tasks. This alone could be responsible for the success of humans.
What to do about it?
Knowing that upright posture adds stress to the spine it is important to be proactive and take care of you spine.
1. Maintain proper alignment with Chiropractic care.
2. Strengthen your core with spinal stability exercises.
3. Proper lifting mechanics. When lifting objects first stiffen your spine and lift with your legs. Keep the object as close to the spine as possible to avoid adding excess load.
4. Be aware of how much time you spend sitting as this adds excess load specifically to the low back.
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