As we grow older, our bodies undergo a variety of physiological changes. One significant aspect to aging includes the decline of our posture. Postural aging refers to the gradual deterioration of strength & stability within our bones, muscles, discs, and joints. These aging processes can lead to pain, facet or sciatic nerve syndrome, discomfort, and a decrease in overall health.
Fortunately, our chiropractic office in St. Louis offers an integrated approach to managing postural aging. In this blog, we will explore the impact age has on posture, discuss a few underlying causes, and then provide you with a few examples of how chiropractic care at Smart Pain Solutions can help alleviate the symptoms associated with aging degenerative changes.
The Effects of Postural Aging
Postural changes associated with aging can be seen in various parts of the body. This portion will discuss aging from a chiropractic & musculoskeletal perspective. Common changes often manifest as;
Forward Head Posture : Over time, many individuals develop a tendency to carry their head in a forward, stooped position. This places excessive stress on the neck and upper back, leading to pain, muscle stiffness, and misalignments of the facet joints within the spine. A chronically forward head can lead to what chiropractors call Anterior Head Carriage or Upper Cross Syndrome. If you are interested in learning more clinically about Upper Cross we advise you to take a look at Physiopedia’s informational page!
Rounded Shoulders: Poor posture from aging can result in the rounding of our shoulders and an increase in thoracic kyphosis. This is where the middle of the spine becomes excessively curved outwards, causing a person to look as if they have a hunchback or stand in a stooped position. This condition is extremely prevalent in older adults. Rounded shoulders in the mid back contributes to joint pain, discomfort, restricted spinal mobility, and can even limit breathing abilities.
Loss of Lumbar Lordosis: Just like an excessive thoracic curve, our lower backs can also produce an excessive curve in the spine. Lumbar lordosis refers to an excessive forward curve of the lower spine. As we age, this curve may diminish, causing our back to flattened out. A flattened back may decrease range of motion within our hips, sciatic nerve irritation, & ultimately lead to low back pain and instability of the facet joints.
Contributions to Postural Aging
As spine specialists in St. Louis, we believe these factors play a major role in increasing the likelihood of developing unwanted postural changes as we age. These include;
Sedentary Lifestyle: Prolonged sitting, especially with poor posture, can weaken muscles and create stress on the facet joints supporting the spine. Spinal instability leads to imbalances and postural misalignments throughout the entire body.
Weakened Muscles: Muscles are important for generating everyday movement & supporting other structures of our body. With age, unfortunately our muscles tend to lose their strength and elasticity over time. It takes longer for our bodies to recover following exercise and physical activity. Weaker muscles means the body is less capable of supporting the spine. As a result, our joints and posture suffer.
Degenerative Changes: Conditions such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease are normal complications that arise with getting old. Arthritis can affect the spine’s integrity, leading to postural alterations and pain.
Imbalanced Biomechanics: Repetitive movements and improper body mechanics can place excessive strain on many areas of the human body. These produce postural deviations over time that are significant to the function of our spine, arms, and legs.
Chiropractic Care for Postural Aging
Chiropractors focus on identifying & correcting misalignments in the spine to restore balance between the body and optimal function. Here’s how Smart Pain Solutions can help combat postural aging;
Spinal Adjustments: Chiropractors use manual adjustments or gentle techniques to realign the spine, reducing pressure on nerves and joints. This is to relieve pain and improve overall posture.
Postural Exercises: Chiropractors can provide personalized exercise programs to strengthen the core, improve muscle balance, and promote better posture. These simple exercises can be performed at home or in the office to help maintain the benefits of chiropractic adjustments.
Ergonomic Education: Chiropractors educate patients on proper body mechanics, ergonomic principles, and techniques for maintaining good posture during daily activities, such as sitting, standing, and lifting. This month we have also included into our newsletter and another blog posting on the workplace ergonomics of stand up desks, and frequent breaks from sitting throughout the day.
Lifestyle Recommendations: Chiropractors may also offer guidance on maintaining an active lifestyle, incorporating regular exercise, and making healthy lifestyle choices to support optimal musculoskeletal health. Below are just a few simple exercises that can be done at work or at home if you find yourself getting uncomfortable when sitting for too long.
Postural aging is a natural process that affects many individuals as they grow older. However, with the help of chiropractic care, it is possible to minimize the negative effects and maintain good posture throughout life. By addressing the underlying causes of postural changes and providing targeted interventions, Smart Pain Solutions plays a vital role in improving spinal alignment, reducing joint pain, and educating our patients on active measures that can be taken outside of the chiropractic office.