We see it all the time.  As our grandparents age, their body starts to get severely hunched forward and breakdown.  When this happens to people, they are often told, “you are just getting old.”

Severe vs. Normal Alighnment

The question this brings, does it have to be like that?  The truth is mechanically in many cases, it does not have to be that way.  The rhetoric of you are just getting old in most cases is an excuse for not having a workable solution to the problem.

To understand the solution, you first have to identify the problem.  The problem is not that you become hunched over forward as you age.  The problem is the inability for the body to correct itself from a forward stuck position which leads to compensation and a sequelae (a secondary consequence or result) of effects due to the breakdown of the body.

James Gandolfini, the famous actor from the Sopranos, recently died at a young age of 51 from a heart attack.  At the time I heard the news of his death, I did not know what happened, only that he died.  As I did not watch the Sopranos, I decided to look up his profile picture on the internet (see picture below).  Upon looking at his profile, I said, unless he was involved in an accident, I bet he died of a heart attack.  As it turned out, my prediction was correct.

James Gandolfini

I posted my comment on Facebook, and people asked how I knew this.  I explained that looking at how hunched his back was, this would compress his heart and place him at risk for a heart attack and short of an accident, it was the most logical thing that would have suddenly resulted in his death.  People who read my post were astonished I could predict this.  In actuality, predicting this has not been an isolated incident for me.   Just recently, a local restaurant owner developed a cardiac condition that I predicted could happen based upon his forward stuck postural presentation.

Fortunately over the years of practice, I have helped many patients who have developed things such as an irregular heart beat or a rapid heart rate return to normal function solely by providing corrective treatments for their mechanically humped over forward condition (http://bodyrightchiropractic.com/gallery/).  Stay tuned for a future article specifically related to this.

To begin to understand how this is possible, you have to understand how the body breaks down mechanically.  Essentially, the body breaks down first by falling forward and getting stuck in that position.  Unable to fix itself, the body compensates by rotating to the right or the left.  This compensation pattern literally has been validated through the measurement of over 100,000 x-rays using over 10 million data points. [1]

At first this compensation breakdown may be a small thing.  You notice a little stiffness here or there that seems to go away and gradually one day you wake up and realize you have a problem.  The truth is, this is sort of a blessing and a curse all in the same. It is a blessing in that little things don’t present themselves early on as big problems and also allows us to go about our daily lives for many years without much trouble.  It is a curse because our compensating body slowly moves away from optimal function and literally one day we wake up with an injury from doing an activity we have done many times before without a problem or all of a sudden we develop some strange ache or pain that really slows us down and just does not seem to go away and we can’t seem to explain it.

In chiropractic, we call this phenomenon of the body breaking down slowly over time “The Silent Killer.”  It literally is the thing leads people to say to others, you are just getting old” or for people to say to themselves, “I am just getting old.”

What happens in compensated areas is that mechanical stress ensues resulting in restricted motion, pain, muscle spasm and eventually structural damage or degeneration.  The stressed out areas also place underlying organs at risk for breakdown which explains the heart conditions above. [2, 4]

Unfortunately, many exercise approaches are attempted to correct the body from the forward stuck position or are used to prevent it.  The problem is that exercise does not pull the body directly backward like people think.  Instead it pulls by rotating backward which contributes to the left or right compensatory breakdown.  Recall when the body compensates it does so by rotating to the left or to the right.  This will happen regardless if the body compensates on its own or if you exercise to pull yourself backward.

In the image outlined in red below, you will notice a before and after image which primarily uses a method to pull or force the body into an upright position.  To the untrained eye, this correction looks impressive.  But, if you look closely, you will notice it looks like the guy is using great effort to stand more upright.  If this were corrected properly, what you would see instead is the person standing naturally relaxed corrected in an upright position- not looking like he had a stick shoved up his back side.

Forced Correction

In contrast, if the body is naturally corrected without having the person force himself into an upright position (http://bodyrightchiropractic.com/gallery/).  In the image outline in green below, you will see the corrected position of the body have a relaxed natural appearance.  The method used to achieve this is the Body Right System ©.  The correction brings the body upright naturally.  The Body Right System © not only corrects the body into a naturally upright relaxed position, it also helps to prevent the forward collapse from developing which is where the problem started to begin with.  The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not be any truer when it comes to preventing the forward breakdown of the body.  Fortunately, as you can see in the picture below even if ones body breaks down a bit, if people don’t wait until there is moderate to severe structural damage, correction is possible.  Certainly, the earlier you address keeping the body into an upright condition, the better.  This is why I am an advocate for kids to get a check-up to make sure that are growing upright like they should.  This principle should not be a mystery to people so that they wake up one day having never taken care of their body structure properly and wonder what happened.  People need to know this!

Unforced True Posture Correction

If merely taking care of your structure were not important enough, there are 3 things that happen when the body breaks down into a forward position they make it a must.

  1. You will develop arthritis faster or if you have it, it will worsen at a faster rate. [2, 5]
  2. You will have nearly a 3.5x’s greater risk of being disabled as you get older or needing help with your daily activities. [3]
  3. You statistically will not live as long primarily due to developing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. [5]

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  At Body Right Chiropractic, we can prevent the forward collapse from developing or reverse the trend as long as you do not wait until you are an old dowager (the old woman with the hump back).  There is nothing wrong with an old dowager, but it should give a good visual of what does happen.  The dowager condition is also when you are at the greatest risk of dying earlier.

In addition, by keeping your body into a healthy relaxed upright position, you can stop or slow down the onset of degeneration [2, 5], you will lower your risk of disability in later years [5], and statistically, you will live longer [4].  Not such a bad trade off when you look at it.

If you ever say to yourself those dreaded words, “I am just getting old” or you are told “you are just getting old” or you think just because you are not in pain, everything is fine, give Body Right a call and let’s talk (http://bodyrightchiropractic.com/free-consultation/).  I have helped many people stay healthy and helped get others who have lost hope and even been failed to be helped by others back on track.


Be Well,

Dr. Matt  

  1.  Spinal Modeling and the Spinal Analysis System 2007 Raymond Wiegand D.C.
  2. Effects of abnormal posture on capsular ligament elongations in a computational model subjected to whiplash loading Brian D. Stemper, Narayan Yoganandan and Frank A. Pintar, Department of Neurosurgery, MedicalCollege of Wisconsin, 9200 West Wisconsin Avenue, VAMedicalCenter, Milwaukee, WI53226, USA Accepted 19 June 2004
  3. Spinal Posture in the Sagittal Plane Is Associated with Future Dependence in Activities of Daily Living: A Community –Based Cohort Study of Older Adults in Japan.  The Journal of Gerontology Series A: Biological and Medical Sciences (2013) 68 (7): 869-875. doi: 10.1093/Gerona/gls253 – June 6, 2013
  4. Hyperkyphotic Posture Predicts Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: A Prospective Study Journal of the American Geriatrics Society Volume 52 Issue 10 Page 1662  – October 2004 Deborah M. Kado, MD, MS, Mei-Hua Huang, DrPH, Arun S. Karlamangla, MD, PhD, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, MD and Gail A. Greendale, MD
  5. Impact of Positive Sagittal Balance in Adult Spinal Deformity. Spine Volume 30(18), Pages  2024-2029 – September 15, 2005  Glassman, Steven D. MD; Bridwell, Keith MD; Dimar, John R. MD; Horton, William MD; Berven, Sigurd MD; Schwab, Frank MD

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