Posture and Pain

By Michelle Owen.

The Impact of Forward Head Posture.

Other than acute injury or trauma, most of the mild discomfort or chronic pain felt in the neck, shoulders and back are contributed by adopting poor posture. This adoption of poor posture can start in our early childhood years and progressively develop over time into pain, discomfort and for some, debilitating illness.

In Fig 1 (right) we see on the left good posture – where the line running through the ear, middle of the shoulder (as well as the hip and ankle if they were in view).

On the right however, we see that the head has migrated forward and the ear lobe does not line up.

Every inch your head is forward in posture, you are adding the additional weight of your head.

If your head posture is 3 inches forward from the correct position you will have added 3 times the normal weight, which is an additional 10 to 15 kg of load on the spinal column where the head and neck joins the back (Fig 1 No 1 & 2).

The effects are never felt immediately as neck and back problems develop over time and can start from a very early age, for example from poor sitting posture at school or carrying heavy back packs.

As a result of having a forward head posture and rounded shoulders, (Fig 1 No 3) the angle of the first rib gets depressed. The result of this is that major organs in your body will become compressed and not be able to sit in their proper location and position. This restricts them from proper healthy function and adds additional and unnecessary stress to your body. It will also affect your overall wellness, vitality and quality of life.

Quite often people will develop a fatty tissue deposit called a Dowager’s Hump located where the neck meets the upper spine, as the body attempts to stabilise the additional head weight. There is also a huge pressure exerted on the spinal cord (Fig 1 No 2). Its ability to carry messages and feelings is restricted and impaired to the point where we suffer severe problems.

Other examples of areas affected by poor posture are poor lymphatic drainage and poor circulation throughout your body – the pump system including the heart, diaphragm etc.

The spine also houses the spinal cord, which is an intricate sensory network that runs through the vertebrae to transmit feeling and movement commands from the brain throughout the entire body.

When posture is poor we are putting pressure on the whole nervous system and this is extremely draining to our daily energy and vitality.

Correcting Poor Posture

If you have forward head posture you will most likely have other related issues that also need to be addressed. The only way to correct poor posture is to treat the body as a whole.

As a C.H.E.K. Practitioner Level 3, I will begin with a comprehensive in-depth Postural and Orthopedic Analysis. From this assessment I can determine which muscles are tight, weak or long.

Once a program has been designed to correct the imbalances in the body that are causing the discomfort or pain, the client begins to learn a specific stretching plan to stretch “the tight muscles only”. Upon mastering this we would move along to stabilise the spine and the weak muscles throughout the body that we found during the assessment.

From there we move into functional movement patterns that we do on a daily basis, to strengthen the body as a whole. This becomes the base of the strength and conditioning program to move the client into other goals that they may want to achieve. These may include things such as body fat loss, muscle shape/tone, and strength for home, work or sports.

Our body is just like a car. We can be a vintage in great condition or a new model all beaten up and not running well. Age does not have to determine our condition.

If you have mild discomfort now, it will not correct itself, it will only amplify as time goes on.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure!


If you have imbalance in your body and you do a balanced fitness programme you will have no chance to correct the imbalance. Fixing muscle imbalance is very individualised. Your body needs to be coached out of imbalance through specific exercise as well as a re-education process that addresses every other area of your life, e.g. sitting, walking, lifting, working positions etc. This is done at a neural, (brain) level. We have to re-educate the way that we think about our posture.

Also, you could have the best exercise program in the world but if you did not apply the six foundation principles you may not have the ability to recover and repair. Using the 6 Life Principles we can support the postural correction with improvements in our overall wellness. For more on the 6 Life Principles visit

A Note from Michelle.

In this article you have read about the impact of poor head posture and the effect this has on our whole body. It is
imperative to point out that any poor posture in any part of our bodies impacts on the rest of our body. I am using Forward Head Posture as an example and it is only one common postural dysfunction that isrequired to be treated in many people.

Information resourced from “C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 manual” from Paul Chek and the C.H.E.K Institute.

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.

Sweet Enough to Kill

By Michelle Owen

Sugar. Sweet enough to kill you slowly.

Many people are eating sugar on a daily basis without even realising it. Sugar is hidden or camouflaged in many foods that are promoted as healthy, such as:

  • Modern breakfast cereals
  • Processed juices
  • Processed yoghurts
  • White bread
  • Milk products
  • Muesli bars

However many of these “shelf” products are overloaded with sugar, it is simply hidden on the label – instead coming under many different names.

The average food label lists higher quantity ingredients first. When it comes to sugar though, many food manufacturers break it down into different sugars so that each individual sugar appears further down the list and the sugar content does not look so daunting. This is done knowing that the average person does not know all the different names of sugar!

Be aware: Anything with “ose” on the end, e.g. fructose, lactose, sucrose, ribose, glucose…is sugar!

But why all the fuss about sugar?

When carbohydrates, (sugars), are eaten in any form without an adequate mix of quality proteins and fats to stabilise blood sugar levels, many things can happen within the body.

As we eat sugar we experience a rise in blood sugar levels. As this occurs the adrenal glands release insulin to clear the blood sugar from the system. This can result in a crash in blood sugar and then energy. If this is happening on a regular basis it is very hard for our system to maintain stable energy within the body. Over time this can lead to health issues such as:

  • Body fat storage
  • Stressed adrenal glands
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Type II diabetes
  • Gout
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Thrush infections
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Suppressed immune function.

And the list goes on!

Perception vs. Reality

People perceive that they are eating healthily when they have their low fat, packaged cereals or toast with jam and juice for breakfast. Unfortunately, if we break all of this down we find that it is predominantly simple sugars. You cannot possibly generate good energy from these types of foods!

Balance is Essential

No matter what a person’s Metabolic Type or age, it is very important to maintain a correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils with every meal and snack. Doing this will work to maintain blood sugar in a controlled fashion. Unfortunately, many people begin their days with a breakfast consisting of sugar. One of the biggest concerns here is our children who are going to school hyped up on sugar, resulting in a decrease in attention and an increase in hyperactivity disorders.

When we look at the fact that one-teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for up to 4 hours, we begin to understand how this can cause havoc within the body over time. What many do not realise however is that healthy items like dates, raisins, bananas, or other foods also have a very high sugar content (glycemic index), and when eaten alone without fats, oils and proteins, they can actually have the same effect as refined sugar. Although they carry nutritional value, they can still be very disruptive to the hormonal system of the body.

It is extremely important for your health to know how to properly food combine to stabilise blood sugar levels. This creates steady energy not only for your body but also for your brain function and mood. Sugar makes the body acid! When the body becomes acid the PH levels and many hormones become disrupted.

Fungal and Parasitic Infections.

Long-term consumption of sugar in any form will lead to poor health. As our health deteriorates our vitality decreases. Our internal environment shifts to a point where our body is now a good place for fungal infections and parasite infections to live. Both of these live and thrive on sugar and as you continue to eat it, even if it perceived as healthy, these organisms will flourish in your system.

Common problems that occur when somebody has a fungal infection are dandruff, vaginal yeast infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, just to name a few! People with intestinal parasite infections are usually under-nourished and weak, infected with viral, fungal, or bacteria, and have various types of chemical and metal poisoning.

Human intestinal parasites can be present in any disease, in any person, at any age. They are responsible for many health problems because they secrete toxins and steal the vital nutrients from our bodies. They can irritate or exaggerate other health problems you may be experiencing. Everyone is at risk and under their mercy during parasitic infections.

We create the perfect living environment for parasites and for the feeding of fungal infections when the bowel becomes ineffective in the elimination of our waste products. The build-up of faecal material on the walls of the colon is attributed to constipation and the amounts of junk food, chemicals, bad fats and sweets we consume.

To clear this type of infection an anti fungal diet must be followed. This includes eliminating all sugars, fruits, and below ground vegetables because of their high sugar content. Concentrate on good quality meat, chicken, fish and above ground vegetables. Eating right for your metabolic type is very important.

CHEK Points on Sugar

Read product labels for sugars that end in “ose” and avoid these. These include:

  • Fructose, lactose, sucrose, ribose, glucose. Look and purchase foods that say “100% Sugar Free”
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners as this tricks the brain. Stevier is a good natural alternative if you require a sweetener.
  • Avoid soft drinks, they are all sweet and fizzy.
  • Use seasonal fruits and berries to sweeten food.
  • Purchase whole foods, organic meats and vegetables
  • Keep away from processed foods!

Information resourced from “You Are What You Eat” CD series and “How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!” both by Paul Chek

Michelle Owen
Michelle is a C.H.E.K Practitioner Level 3 and CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach Level 3. With a successful studio in Auckland, New Zealand, Michelle works as a Postural and Wellness Specialist, Lifestyle Coach and Practitioner. She also offers onsite Corporate Wellness Seminars and has spoken for a number of corporate companies including Hyatt Regency, Kensington Swan and ANZ Bank. As a Key Note Speaker, Michelle is passionate about bringing the CHEK principles to people everywhere.