BY MARIBEL PADIAL
My posture is something that I never really thought about.
Health and wellness has always been a priority in my life, so I thought through exercise and healthy eating that I was doing everything possible to stay healthy. It wasn’t until my last job that severe back and shoulder pain — being hunched over at my desk for nearly eight hours straight — drove me to look around for a remedy.
The pain was so bad I found myself trying to massage my shoulders at my desk.. I made an effort to get up from my desk more often, but my lower back would still tighten up. Initially, I just chose to ignore the pain because I didn’t believe in seeing a chiropractor or seeking medical help.
But then my fiancé began seeing a chiropractor because he too was experiencing pain in his back. After several weeks of trying to persuade me to go with him to a visit, I finally gave in. And wow. I never imagined what a tremendous difference I would feel.
I have been seeing my chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Hunter for several months, typically twice a week. My physician stressed to me that if I don’t make these visits part of my regular routine then I won’t be able to fix my posture. The main issue patients have with visiting a chiropractor is that they want a quick fix for their pain and, unfortunately, with physical therapy you have to be patient in order to truly see results.
I sat down with Dr. Hunter to ask him how posture has an impact on your overall health, including your mood; sleep patterns, diet, energy, pain tolerance, among an array of other areas of health. Below is a transcript of my interview with him.
ON THE GLOW: Explain to me why it is so important that people should visit a chiropractor?
DR. KEVIN HUNTER: The main premise is that and it’s been proven that when our spine is properly aligned, not only do we function better in our day-to-day life between movement, recreation and so forth, but also organs function better. And now recently there’s been a lot of studies coming out, one study was conducted by Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, she did a Ted Talk and wrote a very popular book called “Presence,” where basically she said the posture a person relates to how they view the world and how they view themselves. So people who had a poor posture, where they were more bent over, they had a poor view of themselves, less pain tolerance, they scored lower on exams compared to other people, who stood up more upright. And they had a worse view of the world. People who are more upright (and they just did studies on this and it goes beyond chiropractic) test higher on exams, they had a higher pain tolerance, and they viewed the world better. They just felt more open to life and happy. So there is more and more being shown that our posture really dictates how we relate to the world.
Photo obtained by Dr. Hunter
OTG: A lot of jobs involve their workers to sit at a desk and work from a computer for a majority of their day. Do you have any recommendations on what people can do to avoid ruining their posture by being so stagnant throughout the day?
HUNTER: A standing desk would be the best option. If their work will not provide them with a standing desk, at the very least if they are seated, they should get up every hour to move around a little bit. They used to say smoking was the silent killer. Now doctors are saying that sitting, being seated eight hours a day is also silent killer. So they recommend that if you are working from a computer, cubicle, or form a desk you should try to get up every hour and get a little bit of motion in or even doing stretches at your desk. You need to do something, so it hasn’t been eight straight hours where you have hardly gotten up from your desk. Even if you go to lunch for an hour and are then seated for four straight hours is not good.
Photo obtained by Vital Life Chiropractic
OTG: How does posture affects your mood so much?
HUNTER: Oh, it affects it tremendously. I noticed a lot of changes myself as well. For people who have better posture life looks a little bit better. Life seems a little bit easier. Things that would normally get on one’s nerves don’t. Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy confirms all of this in her book “Presence.” They did a study, where there were two groups and they asked the participants in one group stand and sit in a more crouched position during the day and the second to focus on standing and sitting more upright. The participants who were asked to not keep their posture upright noticed that they had more sunken moods and felt more depressed. They also had a gloomier outlook on life versus the individuals who were asked to be more upright. The participants in the second group were also more open to life and wanted to try new things. Cuddy emphasized that having a straight spine made a huge difference.
OTG: Do you think more people are becoming more dependent on medications or other methods to cure their problems?
HUNTER: Absolutely, we have become a society of a quick fix, where we are looking for a pill to solve all of our problems and there isn’t one for the spine. My sister is a dentist and she talks to me about dental hygiene and how if someone doesn’t take care of their teeth they can get implants, crowns, or other things put in their mouth to correct the damage. You can’t do that with the spine. You can’t put implants in the spine. I think spine hygiene is important to keep our spine aligned and keep it functioning correctly.
This is the Maryland Chiropractic office, the office that Dr. Hunter works from
OTG: Why do you think so many people have problems with their posture?
HUNTER: We have become a society where we don’t want to take personal responsibility for our actions. There is a cause and effect with everything, but we still believe we can neglect things, like people who don’t workout, don’t eat healthy, don’t watch their weight and then they become overweight and don’t want to take responsibility. People rather look for the quick fix even when there isn’t one for maintaining a healthy body weight. I think people don’t want to put in the effort to go see a chiropractor or take some time out of their day to stretch out their spine. If you put in the effort to work on your posture, you will notice a tremendous difference. The person’s life will change in so many ways in a positive effect.
OTG: Can you list out some of the positive effect of working on your posture? Does it serve as a motivator to work out more? Eat healthier?
HUNTER: I’ve noticed when we have patients who maybe are dealing with other health related issues, once their spine starts feeling better and they feel like hey I can move better, I can get in out and out of the car better, then the natural progression begins to happen. Hey let me start walking now. Hey I have that gym membership maybe I should try going to the gym for a little bit. And we encourage that. We also encourage exercise in the office, so it becomes active therapy. We want them to be using all of their joints and not just their spine. We do start to see people begin to eat healthier, start working out and things begin to change for the positive.