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Posture

Improve posture Part II - The lower body

Friday, March 16, 2012 by: Dr. Daniel Zagst
Tags: posture, lower body, sitting

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(NaturalNews) Now that everyone is sitting up straight in their desk chair, it's time to address the second half of poor posture, the lower extremities. Think about it - humans did not evolve to sit in a chair for half of their day; we are physical beings and sitting has detrimental effects to our low backs and legs. For those who have a hard time straightening up from being seated to standing, you may want to pay attention.

A hidden, but reversible cause of back pain

In a seated position, the muscles in the front of the thigh (hip flexors) are very relaxed while the muscles in the back of thigh (hip extensors) are in constant tension. Unknown to most people, the most important hip flexor, the iliopsoas muscle, has its origins in the lumbar spine. This muscle is very deep within the human body and is often neglected as a source of low back pain. Continuous shortening of this muscle by sitting leads to a muscular imbalance. This is a common source of low back pain in those who have a tough time standing erect after getting out of a chair. Since the muscle memory has adapted to being in a shortened position, it doesn't like to be stretched when attempting to stand erect, therefore the muscle sends out pain signals that are interpreted by the brain as "low back pain". In combination with weak abdominals, the pelvis begins to tilt forward and puts stress on the low back causing more pain. Unfortunately most Americans are guilty of this and are not trying to correct it. Further pelvic tilting and iliopsoas shortening leads to lumbar disc degeneration, disc herniation, and sciatica. Medication and spinal surgery are not addressing the problem, only the symptoms, which is why medication only provides temporary relief and back surgeries fail.

How do I fix it?

This stretch is not as easy to perform as the desk chair postural correction exercise (https://www.naturalnews.com/035203_posture_chair_desk.html) but is just as important in correcting the overall poor posture chain.

Start by standing up in a forward lunge position. Your feet should be two to three feet apart, toes pointing forward, hands on hips. Be sure that your center of gravity is over your hips and your weight distribution is not over one leg more than the other. Slowly sink your hips straight down towards the floor bending your knees to accommodate the stretch. Try to rotate your pelvis backwards by contracting your lower abs and flattening the curve in your low back and using your hands to assist the rotation. This should produce a significant stretch in the front of the thigh near the groin region of the back leg. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds while breathing normally and slowly return back to normal standing posture and stretch the other side the same way.

Combine stretches for best results

Perform this stretch as often as you'd like; the more you sit, the more often you should stretch. This stretch will complement the desk chair exercise and can relieve low back pain in many people. It's never too late to get back to better posture - start today!

Sources for this article include:

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=38131

http://www.lower-back-pain-answers.com/iliopsoas.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliopsoas

About the author:
Dr. Daniel Zagst is a chiropractic physician at Advanced Health & Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. He has a BS in Professional Studies of Adjunctive Therapies, Doctorate of Chiropractic from NYCC, and an Advanced Certificate in Sport Science and Human Performance. Find out more at www.dzchiro.com

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