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To Your Health

The Slouch: Part Two

03/01/2010 - Hello Again! I am surprised by the interesting feed back I got from my first segment on "The Slouch". I found that I should have included more, so I will. But it will be another segment that will be more specific, so if you could have some patience I will cover slouching in more depth and attempt to cover the areas that you inquired about.

As I suggested before, I do recommend that you evaluate your sitting habits and compare them to the examples provide by my editor (AKA "The Gator Enforcer").

Now let's cover a basic understanding about you and your spine:

(1) The spine is made of moveable segments (called vertebrae) that allow us to bend and twist and, at the same time, provide a structure that allows us to resist the force of gravity.

(2) Sitting increases forces upon your discs (the cushion between your vertebrae and joints we call facets). Again sitting increases forces. Just by sitting down ("resting") you have put your spine, especially your lower spine, under more pressure.

(3) It takes 15 to 20 minutes of sitting to start deconditioning your spine. This means your muscles that stabilize your spine (core muscles) start to weaken. So if you already have weak muscles, you've got a problem.

(4) It takes about 20-30 minutes of a sustained position to cause tissue deformation. In other words muscles, tendons and ligaments will change their length to accommodate the new position. So if I took your head and pressed your right ear to your shoulder and held it for 20 to 30 minutes, besides it hurting when I let go, your head would stay slightly tilted to the right until the tissues change back to the neutral position.

(5) The human body is designed for motion in an erect posture -- not sitting slumped over to one side, bent over a desk or slouched in a chair or sofa.

(6) The human being is a creature of habit.

Now I hope some of you at this time are putting the pieces together, but I'm getting the feeling I'm going to hear, "He ruins everything I do" (teenage voice used here). So let's dig a little deeper into what happens to our back from slouching with an example. If you sit in your favorite chair, which you purchased when you were 21 years of age (and by the grace of God your wife did not make you throw it out when you got married and moved to your new home, but relegated you to the den in the basement), that chair is probably broken in (technically broken down) in a way that is molded to your body with a slight lean to the right since you sat in it like this for 10 years. You also slouch in it about 3-4 hours a day probably around 300-plus days a year. Now remembering the list of facts that we just covered, you have now habitually bent your spine in two different directions, probably weakened your core muscles to a degree, caused tissue deformation, now resulting resulting in your spine changing shape. Doesn't seem plausible? Think again. I see this in my office and I usually ask the patient if they sit certain ways and they are amazed (sometimes angry because it means something will have to change (teenage whine placed here). They are even more amazed is when they see what bad habits have done to their spine.

Well, I will end this at this point, but I encourage you to evaluate yourself and your habits. I will go into what happens to the spine as we age with this self induced problem. So until next time, see ya!

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