“STAND UP STRAIGHT” Mom’s words of wisdom still ring in most of our ears. It turns out that mom was right. (again) Posture is the window into the spine and poor posture indicates there is a problem with a person’s spine.

When I talk about posture, people often tell me they know they have bad posture, and attempt to “stand straight.” This usually works for about 30 seconds, until their mind wanders and the slouch into their familiar round back, forward-head slump. Part of their problem is that posture is mostly unconscious. We can focus on and be conscious of posture for a few minutes at best, but the vast majority of our waking hours is spent thinking about things other than posture.

Distortions in spinal alignment are indicators of structural problems. Despite considerable evidence that posture affects how we feel and function, most physicians do not address the significant influence of posture on health. Most physicians make no notes regarding your posture or spine in your evaluation. In fact, most doctors are not trained to look at this important part of your health.

Observation of the striking influence of postural mechanics or functional symptoms have led to the fact that posture effects and moderates every physiological function from breathing to hormonal production. In other words, your spinal mechanics directly effects how your body works.

The fact is poor posture (structural problems) can lead to a wide variety of symptoms. These symptoms can include but are not limited to neck, low back pain, headaches, shoulder, and arm pain, sciatica, numbness, in the hands and feet. By correcting the structural problems, which is the cause of poor posture, your symptoms start to disappear, and you stand straighter without having to think about it.

So how do you know if you have poor posture? First, you would need to know what is normal posture. In a side view of normal posture, your ear should line up to your shoulder, and your shoulder should line up with your hips. For normal posture from the front, your head should be centered over your body. Your head should be leveled, shoulders leveled, and hips leveled. This is normal posture.

A simple at home test to help you determine if you have poor posture? Stand in front of a mirror, look at your head. Does it tilt to the left or right? observe your shoulders. Are they leveled or is one higher than the other? Have a friend or family member look at you from the side and then observe if your ear lines up with your shoulder and if your shoulder lines up to your hips.

But these would be the observation of a layman. In our practice, Bethpage Chiropractic, one diagnostic tool we use to determine poor posture is a state of the art computerized postural analysis evaluation.Utilizing digital pictures, this test has the ability to analyze any structural deviation. This analysis will measure by degrees and inches whether your posture is normal. With this diagnostic tool we can determine if your posture and symptoms are caused by a structural problem.

So the next time your mother tells you to stand up straight, tell her you came to see Dr. Kelley at Bethpage Chiropractic about that very subject.