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Kiwis Urged To Straighten Up

New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association
Media Release

13 OCTOBER 2008

Kiwis Urged To Straighten Up

ACC spends $130 million on back pain each year, but a regular programme of stretching could help prevent such pain.

That’s the message from the New Zealand Chiropractors’ Association (NZCA), as they launch Straighten Up New Zealand, ahead of World Spine Day on Thursday 16 October.

“Straighten Up New Zealand is a simple, engaging spinal exercise programme, designed to promote spinal health,” says NZCA vice president, Dr Simon Kelly.

“Looking after our spines should be something we work on every day – just like brushing our teeth.

The programme will be launched in primary schools across the country, starting this week.

“We want to target children because good habits are formed at an early age,” says Dr Kelly. “If we can get them into a programme of regular spinal exercises now, we can help them avoid back and neck problems later in life.”

He says the association is keen to promote the programme because members see many patients with back and neck pain caused by bad posture.

“A lot of the people we see have forward-head and rounded-protracted-shoulder postures.”

Research has shown an increase in slouched posture and related musculoskeletal disorders in countries with high levels of computer usage. Rises in obesity and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle are also contributing factors.

“Studies indicate this trend is not limited to adults. It has also been identified in adolescents.”

Phil Handcock, a senior lecturer at the School of Physical Education, Otago University, specialising in exercise prescription and injury prevention, says the programme will help the spine by improving spinal mobility.

“There is no doubt that the human body responds positively to movement, and the Straighten Up initiative is a great way to remind New Zealanders of the importance of regular physical activity.

“These simple stretches will also foster more awareness of postures throughout the day, and will hopefully reinforce how satisfying it feels to move and be active. What a great way to take an active break at school or work and maintain an active lifestyle.”

The Straighten Up campaign was developed in the US and is now being adopted by the countries all over the world.

Research in the US showed that after five weeks of daily practice of Straighten Up exercises, 83 percent of study participants said they had improved their posture, 78 percent reported had strengthened their core muscles, and 80 percent said they sat and stood more upright and their backs were more comfortable.(1)

Dr Kelly says the NZCA has produced brochures and posters, and developed a website,, to support the campaign.

“I’d encourage every New Zealander to get online, or pick up a brochure from their local NZCA chiropractor, and take just a few minutes each day to improve their spinal health and their quality of life.”


Kirk, R. “Developing a Spinal Health Promotion Initiative: Use of an Expert Seed Panel and Electronic Delphi Consensus Process”. Family Information Services, Research and Reviews. 2006 May.

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