Posture and Your Health!

Segment 1 of 5.

I know what you’re thinking: posture is boring! We can all picture our parents yelling “stand up straight” or “your neck and back are going to hurt if you don’t hold your head up.” As much as your parents are correct, this blog post is going to focus on other areas of our health you may not have known are influenced by your posture. We’re going to talk about respiration, digestion, cardiac function, spinal health and overall happiness as it relates to your posture. 

Let’s start today with breathing and we will continue this series and explore digestion, cardiac function, spinal health and overall happiness in future blogs by Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. 

What is poor posture?

Poor posture is not just a childhood issue. We all sit too much, spend too much time on our electronic devices, stress excessively, eat inflammatory type foods and suffer from a lack of physical activity each and every day. Several of us sit 8 hours a day for work and/or come home and sit on the couch watching endless hours of Netflix. Sitting alone can increase the thoracic kyphosis (hunchback), round our shoulders and push our head forward. This adds stress to the mid-back, ribs and muscles of respiration, making it difficult to expand your lungs fully. This will make it difficult to breath in and out fully causing what could be diagnosed as asthma or an asthma-like condition. 

Here are some facts I took DIRECTLY from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) about limited respiration (asthma):

  • How Common Is Asthma?
    • 1 in 13 people have asthma.
    • More than 25 million Americans have asthma. 
      • 7.7 percent of adults
      • 8.4 percent of children
    • Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980’s in all age, sex and racial groups.
    • Asthma is more common in adult women than adult men.
    • African-Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other races or ethnicities.
    • More than 11.4 million people with asthma, including more than 3 million children, report having had one or more asthma episodes or attacks in 2017.
    • Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children.
    • Asthma is more common in children than adults.
    • Asthma is more common in boys than girls.
    • Currently, there are about 6.2 million children under the age of 18 with asthma.
    • In 2017, 1 in 12 children had asthma.
    • It is the top reason for missed school days. 
      • In 2013, about 13.8 million missed school days were reported due to asthma.

Diagnosis of Asthma:

Now that I have your attention on just how common Asthma is in the US, lets discuss how we determine the diagnosis? We start with a personal history of shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest. A physical exam of ears, nose, throat, skin, chest and lungs as well as lung function testing. This includes spirometry, peak airflow, FeNO (exhaled nitric oxide) and provocation testing. This testing is often performed by a pulmonologist, ear nose and throat doctor and/or cardiologists. We at Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, include in our subjective questioning complaints of these symptoms, as wells objectively look at rib expansion, quality of breath, respiration rate, pulse and endurance. 

How posture is related to Asthma:

Testing for Asthma has a lot of components, as you can see from the description above. Certified testers must look very specifically at every detail. However, one component we feel that often gets overlooked is the child or adult’s posture during testing! Is the client sitting up or slouching? Is their head held high or looking down? 

Did you know that posture can progressive worsen over the years and cause a change in respiration mechanics and efficiency? Poor posture is commonly seen when one sits too long, plays too many video games, spends too much time on their phone/iPad/laptop, and/or remains sedentary for long periods of time at work or school. Studies show that these prolonged postures will affect the strength and health of breathing muscles including the diaphragm which will further limit breathing. This becomes especially troublesome after sitting in class or at work for several hours and then participating in gym class or exercise afterward! Just think, you just spent multiple hours hunched forward, limiting expansion of ribs and then you increase the demand dramatically and quickly on those same structures. The body may not be able to adjust that quickly and cause difficulty with breathing and cause symptoms similar to asthma.

How asthma is often treated and complications:

Asthma is often treated through medication, including Corticosteroids, Short and Long-Acting Beta Antagonists, oral steroids, Leukotriene Modifiers, Mast Cell Stabilizers, and Immunomodulators. Prolonged corticosteroid use can cause serious side effects. Let’s review what medications are currently being used and their side effects.

Inhaled Corticosteroids 

  • Oral candidiasis (thrush), a common fungal infection of the mouth
  • Dysphonia (hoarseness), usually short-term
  • Sore mouth or throat
  • A reflex cough or spasms of the trachea (windpipe)
  • Slight reduction in growth in children
  • Decreased bone density in adults
  • Easy bruising
  • Clouding of the eye (cataract)
  • Increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma)
  • Decreased life span

Short and Long-Acting Beta Antagonists (Albuterol)

  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness or tremors
  • Rash

Oral Steroids Side Effects

  • Weight gain
  • Fluid retention
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Growth suppression in children
  • Osteoporosis in adults
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cataracts and glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Decreased life span

Leukotriene Modifiers (Singulair (montelukast))

  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nasal congestion
  • Rash

Mast Cell Stabilizers (Cromolyn sodium and nedocromil)

  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Cough
  • Itchy or a sore throat
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Anaphylaxis, rarely

Immunomodulator (Xolair) 

  • Swelling and pain at the injection site
  • Viral illness
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Sinusitis
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Anaphylaxis, rarely

How WE treat asthma and related postural dysfunctions:

At Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, we take posture and respiratory effects seriously. We perform very diligent subjective and objective evaluations to determine of posture could be causing these symptoms. If a patient with breathing difficulty also has poor posture, their posture must be addressed. Hopefully, with postural education and correction, they can drastically reduce their use of medication and or discontinue their use all together. We have found that every asthmatic will benefit from posture work, spine and rib mobilization/manipulation and nutritional advice. 

For more information on posture contact our office Block Sports Chiropractic & Physical Therapy at 631-543-0004 or post your comments below. 

Be sure to stay tuned for segments 2-5!

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Posture and your health