“I explain how the way you stand and sit reflects to the world who you are as a person, and how you might come across when you are out of balance versus balanced,” Eisenstadt said. “Physically I fix posture by massaging and stretching the muscles pulling the person out of position, mobilizing the spine into balance, strengthening the weak postural muscles and teaching proper ergonomics.”
As alternative medicine becomes more accepted by mainstream physicians and patients alike, there are several methods that can be used to help people improve their posture, everything from chiropractic techniques to massage therapy and acupuncture. Having good posture extends beyond a person’s appearance.
Joseph Snyder, a chiropractic physician at Discover Wellness Coronado, said posture is critical for good health and well-being through the understanding of how the nervous system works. It’s the “master” control system of the body and is in charge of every cell, tissue, muscle and organ.
“When we have good spinal alignment and function, we have the best chance of having good health and well-being,” Snyder said. “When we return proper motion to the spinal column, the body is in the best position to heal itself naturally. And this is a huge component in improving posture.”
Rick Loos, doctor of chiropractic care at Torrey Pines Chiropractic, said the ability to move well and maintain proper posture while moving is one of the pillars of health “that people tend to forget.”
And he said the modern world of texting, driving and sitting at a computer has had a dramatic effect on the decline of posture.
“Maintaining proper posture involves training your body how to move efficiently. Sitting, standing, walking and lying in positions that reduce wear and tear and optimize function is what proper posture is all about,” Loos said. “Maintaining proper movement patterns will help reduce the stress and strain applied to the joints, ligaments and tendons that enable the spine’s dynamic movements.”
When dealing with posture issues, he said, chiropractors specialize in restoring balance. They can help identify the underlying cause of the imbalance and help design a protocol to solve the issue. He said they understand human biomechanics and work toward restoring normal movement patterns by rehabilitating function.
“Think of chiropractic as floss is to dental hygiene,” he said. “You can floss and brush your teeth. But you can’t floss your spine, your chiropractor does.”
But in addition to chiropractic techniques, he said, there are other forms of alternative medicine to help restore good posture. These include physical therapy, yoga, Pilates, rolfing, active release technique, Graston, Feldenkrais and more.
Dr. Charles A. Moss, founder of La Jolla’s Moss Center for Integrative Medicine, said methods such as acupuncture can also help with posture issues.
He said if part of the posture problem is muscle spasms or contractions, acupuncture can relax muscles, improve blood flow to the area and reduce inflammation. This allows for better spinal alignment.
And if there’s a pain issue affecting posture, acupuncture helps reduce musculoskeletal pain. While if chronic stress had impacted posture, acupuncture affects many of the underlying mind-body patterns from long-term stress, Moss said.
Acupuncture involves inserting sterile needles in the affected area and elsewhere, and they are kept in place for 15 to 30 minutes.
He said one of the most long-lasting effects of acupuncture is to regain balance in the hormonal and nervous systems. MRI studies have shown that acupuncture alters the activity in the midbrain, leading to less chronic stress effects, which can improve posture and many other problems.
In addition to acupuncture, he also has a massage therapist who specializes in postural therapies and muscle balancing techniques.
But even if patients seek alternative treatments to help with posture, they must do exercises and practice good posture on their own to reach their goals. Snyder said patients with poor posture didn’t simply wake up with the problem. It took time to develop improper alignment of the spine that led to improper posture. As a result, he said, the patient’s behaviors must change to restore posture.
He likens chiropractic care to eating healthy or going to the gym — it often takes a little time to see results.
“To correct posture takes time in chiropractic,” he said. “Remember, it took time to get out of alignment, and takes time to correct.” He said the process is similar to having braces as a child — once they are off, patients are often given a retainer.
“So with chiropractic, completing the recommended care plan (braces) may take time, and then maintenance (retainer) is recommended,” he said. “How long chiropractic care will take to correct posture is case-by-case because everyone has a different lifestyle. Their physical, chemical and emotional stresses are not the same.”
The upside is that improved posture can boost one’s well-being.
It can result in everything from easier breathing to less chronic tension and muscle pain to improved circulation.
“When posture is correct, you will experience more energy, better sleep, less injuries,” Synder said, “and you will be able to be the best you.”