What is MSK health?
The musculoskeletal (MSK) system includes the bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissues. It supports your weight, provides physical stability, enables you to move your body, and protects your vital organs. When everything is functioning well and working together, your body moves efficiently and without pain. However, when the MSK system breaks down, the result can be devastating, potentially leading to chronic pain and disability.
There are a variety of causes for MSK conditions, such as injury, accident or underlying mechanical issues, but there are simple ways to optimize your MSK health, no matter your age, gender or physical ability. The easiest thing you can do for yourself, and teach your children, is to develop spine health habits, starting with good posture. Standing tall, allowing for your spine’s natural curvature, bracing your abdomen and keeping your knees slightly bent all have a resounding impact on spine function and, honestly, it makes you look great!
How do you know if you have poor posture?
Maybe your mother told you to stop slouching. Or your doctor has noticed that you’re not as tall as you used to be. Or you’re experiencing back pain.
The slouched position of rounded shoulders leads to a condition known as hyperkyphosis, which is an increase in the natural curve of the mid spine (thoracic region). This position pushes your head forward, and can eventually lead to deactivation of the deep neck flexors that help you hold your head up. It may even lead to an uneven distribution of pressure on the vertebral discs. This poor posture can cause neck and mid-back pain and headache.
Another example of poor posture is the flat pelvis which is the result of tucking in your bottom rather than keeping your pelvis in a neutral position that allows for the natural curvature of the lower spine. The head is pushed forward and your shoulder blades may stick out causing increased flexion in the mid back. This can cause lower back pain, weakening of the back and stomach muscles, and even knee pain.
Good posture really is the simplest way to look after your spine health. Remember to take frequent posture breaks — get up and move around and try some easy exercises to improve your posture. The Straighten Up Canada app was developed with Canada’s chiropractors and features 12 easy exercises that can be done (with practice) in three minutes.