Article #3: Good Posture by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
The upright position is man’s natural one, but, due to many causes, the great majority of civilized men and women are stooped and round shouldered. “Old man’s stoop” is the posture into which everyone is drifting unless his or her occupation or gymnastic activity is such as to counteract the tendency in this direction.
… Notice people as they walk, you will see that few walk well. Bad positions in sitting are so common we hardly notice them. Go into any school room and you will see boys and girls, go into any audience and you will see men and women, the majority of them, sitting in the most uncouth and unhealthy attitude. This is an indication of physical weakness, want of physical culture, and inharmonious development. The lungs are cramped and the stomach, liver and all of the abdominal organs crowded out of their positions.
Good posture is good form. Certainly good posture is of as much importance as the correct pronunciation of words over which the schools spend so much time, while neglecting posture. Upon the upright attitude depends the usefulness of the senses, complete respiration, the ability to talk, speak or read with correct tone of voice, and the most efficient use of the body. Erect carriage is exceedingly important to health and vigor, as well as to best appearance:
Why are we so particular about the forms of our horses or dogs; why do we refuse to buy one with low head, limping gait, or halfhipped appearance, with weak lungs and scraggy body, while we are willing to be and become all of these ourselves.
What is designated body mechanics has reference to the mechanical correlation of the various systems of the body, especially in reference to the skeletal, muscular and visceral systems and their nerve supply. When the mechanical correlations of the body are most favorable to the function of its various parts, this is designated normal body mechanics. Any lack of correlation in any of its parts that hampers, or impedes any of its functions represents a deviation from the norm or ideal.
Many deviations from normal mechanical correlation in the body result in visceral malpositions and in strain, thus resulting, not in disease, but in general impairment and enervation. To secure the best results in function in the body, all of its structures must be properly aligned and correlated. Those parts that are malaligned are under stress and strain at all times, hence wear down more rapidly than do properly aligned parts.
Dr. Skarstrom says, “Erect carriage, easy poise and fine bearing, when habitual, signify perfect adjustment, weight distribution and balance of the different parts of the body. They represent economical distribution of muscular tension, a high degree and even balance of muscular tone, equalized pressure on the surfaces of joints and minimum tension on their fibrous structures. All this implies readiness for all kinds of action, elimination of unnecessary strain, conservation of energy.
Good posture also means the most favorable conditions for the internal organs as regards room, free circulation, relative position and natural support. Thus it makes for health and efficiency, as well as beauty and harmony.
… The precise degree to which faulty posture interferes with normal body function is not easily measured. There is, however, considerable evidence which shows that the stresses and strains produced by faulty posture, especially those assumed and sustained in work, are responsible for much pain, including “referred pains” and even functional visceral impairments. Ours is a day of stooped shoulders, relaxed abdominal walls and sagging viscera.
Lordosis of the lower spinal column is accompanied by kyphosis in the upper back and lordosis of the neck, the upper curves being compensatory. Changes in the curves of the spinal column result in changes in the attached structures thus throwing strain upon the supporting ligaments malpositions and sometimes crowding of the viscera, circulatory impediments, perhaps even nerve irritation from pressure.
Lordosis causes a forward tilting of the pelvis thus forcing the abdominal viscera against the front wall of the abdomen, the muscles of which become stretched and this under constant pressure. The attachments of the mesentery to the lumbar spine are also lowered by lordosis so that the intestines and other supported structures are permitted to sag and assume lower positions in the abdominal cavity. There is evidence that the liver may rotate forward and to the right thus stretching the common bile duct and perhaps, in some cases seriously interfering with bile flow. Ptosis of the kidneys, especially of the left kidney results in traction on the renal veins. The pelvic organs are also involved in the general visceroptosis that results from faulty posture. The ovaries are ptosed, the uterus becomes malposed due to the weight of the sagging abdominal viscera resting upon it, varicose veins of the lower bowel and various impairments of the reproductive system are possible results of the impeded venous flow. The relaxation of the abdominal wall and the crowding of the abdominal organs in the lower abdomen and pelvis permits an increase of blood in the venous reservoirs of the abdomen, thus diminishing the blood volume. This pelvic and abdominal engorgement may also contribute to tumor formation.
Disturbed lateral (side) balance of the spinal column gives us unequal shoulders (one shouder is lower than the other), a neck that angles in one direction or another above the shoulders or a head which is set crooked on the neck. Such defects of posture and evidences of poor body contour may result from a tilted pelvis, one leg being shorter than the other, or from habit.
… Proper posture is a normal by-product of healthful living and proper body activity. Nearly all of the activities of civilized life encourage the forward position of the head, arms and shoulders. There is a drooping or forward position of the head, a forward displacement of the shoulder girdle and more or less depression of the chest. This is not due to any inherent inability of the spine and associated structures to maintain the upright position. One writer says, “It is not correct to say that spines are not perfectly adapted to the upright posture; it would be more accurate to say that human spines were not evolved to withstand the monotonous and trying posture entailed by modern education and by many modern industries.”
… The physical factors which determine posture are (1) the size and shape of the bones and their articular surfaces; (2) the relative length and tension of opposing muscles and fibrous structures; (3) the degree of localized muscular control.
The relative size or shape of ribs, clavicles, scapulae, and vertebrae, as indicated by the general configuration of the chest, shoulder and back, is largely a matter of nutrition and “heredity.” However, their sizes are influenced to some degree by the use of these parts, especially during the growing period; for, use or exercise not only influences the size and form of the bones directly, through the demand made upon these by stress and pressure, but also, indirectly, through the constant tension on the bony segments from the resulting muscular tone. I have observed that well-nourished children are straight postured while malnourished children tend to let their shoulders and head droop and sag. I do not doubt that malnutrition is one of the chief causes of early faulty posture.
From Exercise! by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- 1. Introduction
- 2. What Is A Corrective Exercise?
- 3. Deformity Is Widespread
- 4. The Spine
- 5. Correct Postural Maintenance Vital To Wellness
- 6. Exercise—General
- 7. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Excerpt from Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia
- Article #2: Exercise
- Article #3: Good Posture By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #4: Correcting Sensitivity to Light By Edwin Flatto, N.D., D.O.
- Article #5: Words Of Wisdom By Silvester Graham