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Healthy Guide for Seniors: How to Fix Bad Posture

Daughter with elderly senior mother

Poor posture is evident in people of all ages, but especially in seniors. This is due to a variety of different reasons that range from back pain to spinal diseases. While it might seem like it's too late to fix your posture, this isn't the case. This article will discuss a few reasons why you might have bad posture and some tips you can use to improve it. 

What Causes Poor Posture in Seniors?

As we age, our spine starts to naturally lean forward. Over time, your spine's vertebrae will also wear down. This can affect your spinal curvature and cause you to tilt forward. In addition to this, intervertebral discs can start to lose important cartilage and fluid between them. This could cause the discs to rub together. To relieve this uncomfortable feeling, most of the time we will move our body in awkward positions—something which can result in poor posture.

Besides normal aging aspects, seniors can also suffer from serious spinal or muscle diseases. These can result in not only bad posture, but also severe pain. Some of the most common spinal problems plaguing seniors include: 

● Osteoarthritis
● Cervical disc disease 
● Central cord syndrome 
● Scoliosis 
● Metastatic disease

Side Effects of Poor Posture

Elder man holding his hand to his head

Poor posture comes with a handful of side effects. 

● Back, neck, and shoulder pain
● Poor digestion
● Spinal misalignment
Headaches
● Constricted nerves

5 Easy Ways to Fix Bad Posture

body of water

Do Stretches

Stretching can be very helpful when it comes to fixing bad posture. By moving your body, you'll release tense muscles in your back that could cause pain. It also improves blood circulation and can reduce your risk of injury. 

Wall Tilts
To do this stretch, stand with your back flat against a wall. Put one hand behind your back and lean your body against it. Once you do, release your back from your hand to the original position. Repeat this motion about 10 times.

Arm Ups
To do this stretch, sit down and keep your spine as straight as you can. Bend your arms toward your chest and lift them up to your shoulders. As you do so, make sure your shoulder blades are pulled together. Hold this position for a few seconds and then release and return to the original position. Continue this stretch for a few minutes and then take a break. 

Shoulder Circles
Shoulder circles can also be done to help improve your posture and increase your spinal range of motion. To do shoulder circles, find a comfortable chair to sit in. Then, shrug your shoulders up, hold for a few seconds, and then put them back down. Repeat this stretch about 10-15 times.

Try Water Aerobics
For some seniors, exercising can be difficult because it causes pain. Water aerobics is a great type of exercise to try because it makes moving around easier to do. In addition to this, the water resistance will help you to build up your muscles, which can keep your spine strong and healthy. Many seniors also find it easier to walk with good posture in the water because of its buoyancy.

Some easy water aerobic exercises to try to improve your posture include:

● Aqua jogging
● Leg lifts
● Water walking
● Standing water pushups
● Arm circles

By doing these simple exercises, you can increase your flexibility, improve your heart health, and keep your spine's curvature in proper position.

Drink Enough Water

Sometimes not drinking enough water can contribute to bad posture. If your spinal discs and muscles don't have enough fluid flowing through them, they will start to contract. This can cause serious back pain that might make it difficult for you to stand up straight.

Because of this, make sure to drink plenty of water. Most seniors should consume at least seven cups of water per day. You could also add a slice of lemon to it. Lemon juice has been shown to remove toxins in your body. This can help to release damaging particles that could be causing dehydration or pain near your spine. It also reduces inflammation.

Wear Supportive Shoes

Some might be surprised to learn that their shoes could be the culprit behind their poor posture. Many seniors tend to wear shoes that don't cater to their spinal needs. This can create pressure on the musculoskeletal system and result in not only bad posture but also aches and pains.

Supportive shoes will contain cushioning that will make them comfortable to wear and also keep your spine aligned. In addition to this, wearing the correct shoes can tone your muscles and strengthen them to give you extra support as you move around.

Finding the right shoes to invest in can be a little bit of a challenge. However, here are a few things you can look for:

● Make sure the shoes have stiff backing. This ensures that they are unable to move. If you're able to move this portion of the shoe it won't support your body.
● Check to see if there's arch support. This support will ensure that your feet are able to keep their natural curvature so you can keep your balance.
● Make sure there's a bit of extra room in the toe area to prevent it from pressing on your feet.

Keep in mind that you also should replace your shoes every year. Over time, the posture benefits built into them will wear down. This can cause the shoes to not support you very well. If you notice that your heel looks worn out, the tread markings under it aren't visible, or there are small holes in it, it's probably time to get new ones.

Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments

If you're wondering how to relieve bulging disc pain or fix another spinal problem, chiropractic care is ideal. Chiropractic adjustments can be beneficial when it comes to fixing your posture. Chiropractic care is safe for seniors, even if they happen to be suffering from musculoskeletal diseases. A chiropractor will adjust your spine to help provide pain relief, increase your range of motion, improve your balance, and prevent joint degeneration.

To help improve your posture, a chiropractor will feel around areas on your back. They will look for points of tension and limited movement. If they feel problem areas, they will press on them and move your body in certain ways to provide relief.

Some chiropractors might also ask that you walk around so they can inspect your posture. Just by looking at your gait, they'll be able to tell quite a bit about the health of your spine.

After adjusting your spine, they might also incorporate massage therapy techniques. This can increase blood circulation in your back and provide oxygen to muscles and tissues. Massage therapy will also loosen up tight muscles caused by improper posture. This way, your body will feel more energetic so you can practice correct posture.

A few types of massages a chiropractor might use during your session include:

● Deep tissue
● Swedish
● Trigger point

While your spine will naturally start to experience some problems as you age, these issues don't have to be life-altering. If you want to improve your posture and ensure your spine stays healthy, definitely keep these tips in mind.

References
https://journals.lww.com/clinorthop/fulltext/2004/08000/spinal_disorders_in_the_elderly.16.aspx
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1403635/
https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2474-8-94


Written By

Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. His team consists of progressive and highly innovative chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical rehab therapists in Anchorage and Juneau. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

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