One of the integral parts of the Empire Longevity Pyramid of Health is MOTION (see the Empire Longevity White Paper: A Core Understanding). Easily the most overlooked aspect of this facet is how your posture is critical for your best health and LONGEVITY. Overlooked, or interpreted incorrectly on many health exams, posture is an inexpensive, if not free, way to give deeper insight into your health. Regardless of symptoms, posture can give us a view into how you move, how you work, and even how your stress levels and nervous system are functioning.
When looking at posture from the front (for some laughs, and then a few “OH MY”s, do this with someone else), have a person standing, close their eyes, march in place for a few steps, stop marching, and then shake their head left and right a few times, bringing their head back to what they think is center, again with their eyes closed. While their eyes are closed, take a look at the shoulder heights to see if they are even. Are the hands even distance from the trunk? Is the spot between the eyes in line with the notch below the nose and the notch at the top of the chest, and can that line be drawn all the way down to bisect the feet evenly? Commonly you will see one ear or eye lower signifying a head tilt. If the line you just drew does not line up we may be seeing a translation, a shift of the head to a side.
Even more apparent is taking a look from the side and seeing if the ear hole, the AC joint, the hip, and then the ankle joint are lined up. THIS view is absolutely critical in that this shows Forward Head Posture. With the advent, and then the onset of hand held technologies, and more and more people sitting for more and more of their day hours, the Forward Head Posture, sometimes called hyperkyphosis for the accentuation of the mid back that happens with the head being jutted forward, is at astronomically high numbers. It is estimated that approximately 3% of young girls, and little less young boys will have a scoliosis, the abnormal curvature of the back. But take a quick look around to not only school age children but teens and adults and you will see the incredible numbers of people carrying their head forward.
So if it happens so much, does that mean it is bad?
In 2004 Kado, et al published ‘Hyperkyphotic Posture Predicts Mortality in Older Community Dwelling Men and Women: A Prospective Study’. This study showed a number of startling revelations about people with forward head posture (hyperkyphosis).
The conclusion of this paper published in The Journal of the American Geriatric Society made the statement: Older men and women with hyperkyphotic posture have higher mortality rates.
The people in the study who carried the head died more than the people who did not have the forward head posture. Other aspects of this study, some done by Kado, et al, or where Kado was a corresponding author found that the forward head posture correlated to worse sleep, older persons with hyperkyphotic posture are more likely to have physical functional difficulties, and hyperkyphotic posture may signify an easily identifiable independent risk factor for injurious falls.
A recent article by Moustafa, et al asked if having forward head posture can be detrimental to your autonomic nervous system. Their conclusion, “We have identified a forward head posture is associated with abnormal autonomic nervous system function and disturbances of cervical sensorimotor control”. Having your head forward is associated with your nervous system not working correctly!
For these reasons we added ‘Posture’ as a key component of your physical health and motion. As the referenced papers above show, it is absolutely essential that we care for our posture, so we can get to enjoy LONGEVITY.