What governs posture is gravity. It doesn't matter if you ignore it - it will still affect your spine.
And much like a car, a person must be properly aligned. Take, for instance, your head: If it is not properly aligned over the shoulders, it can create a gravity pull of about extra 10 pounds. This continuous demand upon the muscles can make you prone to various cervical spine conditions such as disk herniation. The major reasons that drive people to visit a doctor are issues of the spine.
Headaches as well as pain in your neck, shoulder, arms and hands can be related to improper cervical alignment and many future problems can be prevented by your awareness of your spinal alignment. Some daily activities, such as long periods using a handheld device, can facilitate cervical spine conditions. Be conscious of the position of your head, especially while you are seated.
Similarly, your lower back muscles are responsible for supporting the weight of the torso, shoulders and arms. When improperly aligned, this continuous demand upon the lower back muscles will make your lower spine vulnerable. This time however, the pain will be around the lower back and could radiate down the legs.
Most minor trauma conditions of the spine originate due to wrongful distribution of forces upon the spine structures. And even though these conditions can be painful, they normally subside in a few days. Contrary to commonly held advice, bed rest may delay rehabilitation while careful, moderated activity improves rehabilitation.
On the other hand, most back pain produced by major trauma - such as damage to disks and vertebrae - does not disappear after four to six weeks and should receive medical attention before the trauma evolves into a more serious condition. A timely medical evaluation can easily diagnose the cause of the pain. MRI technology is the most favored diagnostic tool used by spine surgeons today.
Considering the role of the spine in the proper functioning of the head, limbs, organs and more, it can truly be said that you are only as healthy as your spine.
Dr. Alfred O. Bonati is the foundation and chief orthopedic surgeon at The Bonati Institute in Hudson.