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Back Behind the Wheel: Posture Keep It Straight!

Sit up straight, don't slouch and keep your shoulders and head back. We've all heard our parents repeat this to us time and time again.If we all listened to our parents, most of us would have good pos...

Sit up straight, don’t slouch and keep your shoulders and head back. We’ve all heard our parents repeat this to us time and time again.

If we all listened to our parents, most of us would have good posture – and improved health. That’s because good posture is very important to your overall health.

Not only does it decrease physical stress on your joints, muscles, ligaments and spine, it will also allow your body to function more efficiently.

Over time, poor posture may lead to muscle tightness, facet joint irritation and various related health conditions.

Why is posture so important? Without proper posture, the normal curvature of the spine is lost. These curves allow the body to distribute/absorb the forces that go through the body. If any of these curves are exaggerated (either too much or too little), it may cause you to have back problems. Muscles can be permanently shortened or stretched, which will lead to increased tonicity in the muscle, resulting in trigger points, headaches and an overall decrease in vertebral (spine) motion. This lack of motion in the joints of the spine will cause back and neck pain, with an increased risk of osteoarthritis and premature disc degeneration.

A lifetime of poor posture can start a progression of symptoms in the average adult. Poor sleeping habits, excessive body weight, weak muscles (back, abdominals), and poor sitting/standing habits are common causes for poor posture. Driving professionally is very demanding on your back/posture. Your body is not designed to be sedentary (sitting). It is designed to be upright and constantly moving. These types of occupational stresses, also unfortunately lead to poor posture.

What does the ideal posture look like? Draw an imaginary line starting from the middle of your forehead, down between your eyes, bisecting your chin, into your belly button and ending between your ankles. If this line divides your body into two equal halves, your overall spinal alignment is good. Looking at the body from the side, you should be able to see the natural curves in your low back, upper back and neck. Your head should be held straight and relatively parallel to the floor. Shoulders should not be slumped forward but level with each other.

Here are two tests that you can do to check. A simple test that you can do at home to check your posture is the wall test. Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard.

With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your lower back and neck from the wall. If you are within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture. If you have too much or too little space between the wall and your back/neck, you need to work on your posture.

The mirror test is also another good test to check your posture, because it allows you to see for yourself if there are any asymmetries in your body. Stand facing a full length mirror and check to see if: a) your shoulders are level, b) your head is straight, c) the spaces between your arms and sides seem equal, d) your hips are level your kneecaps and face straight ahead and e) your ankles are straight. These two tests are easy to do and will give you a good idea of your posture. If your posture is poor, it is time to start working on it.

Have you ever noticed that the longer you are at the wheel, the worse your posture gets? This is primarily due to your back and neck muscles being weak and fatigued.

Your muscles just get tired, and they are unable to keep your spine in proper alignment. When you feel that you are beginning to slouch, straighten up. It is going to be difficult at first, but over time it will get much easier.

Trying to sit properly will strengthen the muscles in your back, neck and abdominals. Strengthening these muscles will help ensure good posture.

A few more tips for good posture: Keep your weight down; excess weight, especially around the mid section, will put added stress on your lower back affecting its natural curve. Be conscious of your work area.

Make sure you have a good seat with proper lumbar support. Finally, exercise regularly and strengthen and stretch your muscles which are responsible for your posture.

It is hard to have perfect posture all the time. Being aware and understanding the importance of it, is a good start.

Remember that you only have one spine. Take good care of it, and it will last you a lifetime. So sit up straight and drive safely!

– Dr. Jerry Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 888-252-7327, or e-mail


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