May is Correct Posture Month—the foundation of good health

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—As children, we were told constantly by adults to “stand up straight.” But as we age, sedentary lifestyles, gravity and muscle weaknesses cause our postures to slump, putting great strain on our structural system.

“To maintain good posture, we have to be on our feet more often,” says Michael Wiles, DC, dean of Northwestern Health Sciences University’s chiropractic program. “Most people sit too long, and their unique pelvic and abdominal muscles weaken and lose their effectiveness.”

The body is designed for motion. Perfect posture has the body at a very slight tilt forward, making walking a smooth, efficient movement. When pelvic and abdominal muscles weaken, the pelvis can tilt, resulting in poor posture. Meanwhile, the head moves forward, and the shoulders slump. Ultimately, walking ceases to be efficient and becomes more mechanically difficult. People become more sedentary, which further weakens the core muscles, and the cycle continues.

According to Dr. Wiles, to put your body into proper posture, while standing, tilt your pelvis so that the lower region is lifted slightly toward the rib cage, bend your knees slightly, tilt your chin down slightly, and move your head backward on your shoulders without tipping your head up and down. A really quick fix is to stand in what is considered the “at ease” position in the military: arms behind the body, chin slightly down, very slight forward lean of the torso, he adds.

“Notice that I said nothing about your shoulders,” says Dr. Wiles. “Pulling your shoulders back may actually worsen your posture, and yet this is what most people think they have to do to fix their posture.”

Dr. Wiles adds that posture correction can be complicated. “If you’ve had poor posture for a long time, your body will resist positional change and requires a strategy to stretch certain areas and strengthen other areas. Also, a corrective program may take into consideration other factors such as the arches of the feet, whether the patient is pregnant, and whether a patient has a short leg due to a previous fracture or hip disease.”

Doctors of chiropractic can assess your posture and determine what you need to do to correct it. For more information, visit

Natural News Service is a public information program provided by Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn.

from the May 23-29, 2007, issue

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