Is My Posture Making Me Dizzy?
Dizziness can be a very unsettling experience; however, it is not always a sign of a serious underlying issue. Understanding what might be triggering your dizziness is the first step in figuring out how to fix it.
Dizziness is often described as a feeling of light headedness, feeling unsteady or off-balance. An important factor that may be influencing this sensation, and one that is often overlooked, is your posture. Our muscles work to inflate us against gravity, allowing us to stand upright and move about our environment. In the muscles and ligaments that support our joints are little sensors that tell the brain where our body is in space. These sensors are called proprioceptors.
Over time, accidents, injuries, and repetitive stress, such as working long hours on a computer or poor sleeping positions, can create wear and tear in these supporting soft tissues and eventually lead to a breakdown in our posture. Classically, this is seen as slumping through the midback while the head and shoulders start to roll forward. When this position is maintained, the muscles that support our head, neck, and shoulders may start to shorten and stiffen-up and can even begin to develop trigger points. This altered muscle function can change the ability of the proprioceptors to accurately tell the brain where your body is in space and can result in feelings of unsteadiness, particularly when moving your neck or body.
So how do you fix it?
Our postural system is unique in that it is largely under our sub-conscious control; however, when we think about it, we can still consciously control how we sit, stand, and move. One thing that I often hear my patients say is that they know how to sit or stand-up straight, but as soon as they start doing something else they fall back into their poor postural habits. To understand how to fix this we have to first understand a little bit more about how our postural system works.
As previously mentioned, our postural system is largely reflexive in nature, meaning that we do not have to be constantly thinking about how we are moving or positioning our bodies to be able to function. When our reflexive postural system starts to break down, due to accidents, injuries, and micro-stressors, we start to subconsciously shift and adapt our posture. When this is not immediately addressed, our muscles will start to learn to support us in an unbalanced position. Over time this can result in a stiff neck and shoulders, low-back fatigue, headaches, and dizziness.
The first step is to correct the reflexive nature of your posture. Engaging your appropriate postural reflexes can help return your body to a more balanced position, reducing stress and strain on your muscles and joints. Working with a practitioner, such as a chiropractor, osteopath, or a specialized massage therapist or personal trainer, who understands the postural system can be beneficial at this stage.
The next step is to re-teach your muscles how to keep you in proper postural alignment. Stretches focused on the chest, hamstrings, and hip flexors, and exercises to strengthen the back are a great place to start here.
In addition, ensuring your workplace is set up to promote healthy posture and taking regular movement breaks throughout the day are great ways to reduce postural fatigue and the side effects that come along with it.
If your posture is making you dizzy, it may be easier to fix than your think!
Dr. Speranza is an upper cervical Chiropractor in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She follows the protocols of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) to help people experiencing problems with postural related dizziness regain balance, return to doing the activities that they love, and ultimately take back control of their health.