5 minute read
Q&A: Body Posture with Dr. Kristin Ochs, DC
Interview by Lifesetyle Staff
Chiropractic care is commonly associated with the cracking of bones and instant fixes. However, along with preventing pain, and limiting the risk of disease, and other health disorders, there are other benefits to maintaining good spine health. An aligned spine promotes increased energy and productivity, and improved thinking and mood, in addition to better biomechanics and nervous system processes. Dr. Kristin Ochs, DC specializes in facilitating your body’s natural ability to heal and is sharing the importance of spine health with us this month.
Q: Please share about the vital role our spine plays in our body.
A: The spine provides bodily structure. Without it, you would be a puddle of organs, muscles, skin, and hair. The spine’s vertebrae and attached muscles allow us the flexibility to move the unique way we do. Its other very important role: Providing protection for our spinal cord—the column of nerves that connect our brains to our entire body. Basically, every function happening in your body (breathing, digesting, moving, even wiggling your pinky toe!) is all communicated through the spinal cord as it passes through your spine.
Q: Are there common activities today that can contribute to poor posture?
A: Think about your typical routine. If you’re like the rest of America, you’re on your phone much of the day, messaging, scrolling, and watching a show. The position you’re typically in for that activity (bent forward) creates a condition commonly known as “text neck”—a strain on the neck and upper back that can lead to pain and headaches. When not looking at our phones, we spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Frequently workstations are not set up ergonomically (or we easily fall into poor posture when staring at a screen) causing postural strain. Improper posture and extended sitting can lead to other (back and leg) problems: lower back pain, improper firing patterns in the muscles, compensation patterns, etc. Gaming, crocheting, knitting, playing musical instruments—basically, any posture held for an extended period of time can contribute to poor posture. Humans were not built to sit all day.
Q: What types of conditions have you seen benefit from chiropractic care?
A: Since we’re talking about it, postural strain certainly benefits from chiropractic care. Neck pain, lower back pain, muscle spasm, headaches, are all things you would commonly associate with chiropractic care. But there are other issues that can benefit, too: constipation or other digestive issues; chronic earaches; sinus infections; general immune function; asthma; high blood pressure; arthritis; fibromyalgia; migraines. These have all been known to respond to chiropractic care in some populations. I’ll regularly advise patients that they may notice some improvements in these areas while we’re treating their spinal complaints.
A: What are some long-term effects of neglecting your spinal health?
Q: Caring for your spine is so important! You only get one, so it’s vital to support it. Ignoring neck and back pain can lead to permanent degenerative changes, making treatment more difficult (though not always impossible). Over time, postural imbalances can lead to pain in the arms and/or legs as the nerves become affected by the extra strain or as trigger points build up. Our bodies are amazing at adapting and compensating, but not always without consequences. Even ignoring foot pain can translate into problems that can reach your knee, hip, lower back and your neck!
Q: Are there any activities or exercises we can do on a regular basis to improve our posture?
A: Move! Too often we spend our days sedentary: sitting in the car, at work, in front of the TV, and doing it all again the next day. A yoga routine can support spinal health and increase strength, balance, and flexibility. Taking micro-breaks at work will make a big difference, too. Back away from your desk for 10 seconds every 20-30 minutes for a postural reset. Try Bruegger’s Relief: Come into an upright posture, line your shoulders up over your hips, find a nice arch in your lower back, allow your arms to rotate out while squeezing your shoulder blades back, together and down, then bring your ears in line with your shoulders by retracting your chin keeping your eyes level on the horizon (a video demonstration is available on my Instagram). Chin retractions (the last part of Bruegger’s) can be their own exercise and are easy to perform while sitting at a red light.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
A: Your body already has a natural ability to heal, but sometimes it’s lacking the proper tools. Give it sufficient movement, rest, nutrition, hydration, and add in some chiropractic for good measure! Chiropractors can help facilitate healing and support spinal health. Most of our patients love us (that’s why they keep coming back!), but we aren’t for everyone! You may be drawn to a different chiropractor depending on whether you love to get adjusted and out the door quickly or if you want to spend extra time doing bodywork and exercises. Your experience will be different with each provider, so find one that really works with you and for you, with appointments you look forward to. Chiropractic care really complements physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage—try a combination of all of the above to see how amazing you can feel.
*While Dr. Ochs is a doctor, she may not be your doctor. These posture relief positions are generally safe for most people, but please ask your health professional before beginning a new exercise.