Thanks to modern technology allowing us to sit for most of the day, bad posture has never been more of a problem. Chances are, you’re slouching as you’re reading this!
Now that you’re sitting up straight, let’s talk. Slouching or hunching every now and then is no cause for concern, but if you have chronic bad posture, it’s time to make a change.
You probably already know that slouching doesn’t look great. But the effects of bad posture go much deeper than appearances. In fact, poor posture can have a variety of adverse effects on your health that can affect you both in the short-term and later on in life.
Listed below are a few of these effects, as well as some tips for determining good posture vs bad posture and how to correct it if you find it’s the latter.
One of the first bad posture symptoms you’ll begin to notice is chronic pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. This is because slouching puts your spine out of its natural alignment and puts uneccessary strain on your muscles and joints.
Take this pain seriously – ignoring it can lead to actual misalignment over time, which is much more difficult to correct than a slouch.
Higher Stress Levels
When considering any aspect of your health, it’s helpful to remember that everything is connected. So while it might not seem like your posture would have any effect on your mental health, bad posture can and will have a negative impact on things like your mood and stress levels.
Bad posture makes it more difficult for your body to perform basic functions, as it cuts off your circulation, forcing certain organs to work harder than they should. This depleats your energy, which can lead to depression, irritability, and stress.
Impaired Digestion and Breathing
Think about the position of your body when you slouch. Your shoulders, head, and neck are hanging unnaturally over your abdomen and chest. This compresses both your lungs and your digestive tract.
Compressing your lungs in this way decreases your lung function and air capacity, meaning you won’t be getting as much oxygen to your vital organs as you should. And when your brain and heart are low on oxygen, you put yourself at risk for a decline in cognitive function and eventual heart disease.
Your digestive tract is similarly affected. When your stomach and digestive tract are compressed, your body has a more difficult time processing foods. This will slow your metabolism, causing weight gain and nutritional deficiencies.
As mentioned above, bad posture forces your body to work harder than it should to perform necessary tasks. Slouching adds tension and compression to parts of your body that aren’t designed to bear that type of burden.
This additional burden strains your muscles, joints, bones, and ligaments over time. And because they aren’t able to operate correctly, they require more energy, causing you to feel fatigued.
To improve your body’s energy efficiency, it’s important to maintain proper posture and gait at all times. Beyond making an effort to sit and stand up straight, you can add more exercise to your routine to correct your posture and gait.
Head and Jaw Pain
If you spend most of the day on your computer or phone or in front of your TV, you’ll be begin to develop what’s known as “tech neck”. This is a forward misalignment of your head and neck.
When you’re constantly leaning forward like this, you tend to clench your jaw, which can lead to chronic jaw pain. Poor posture over an extended period of time will also cause TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome). This is an improper bite pattern that causes popping, cramping, and locking of the jaw.
In addition, the tension created both by the misalignment of your neck and the tightening of your facial muscles can cause headaches and even migraines.
How to Fix Bad Posture
It takes practice, but you need to stay aware of your posture at all times when you’re trying to correct bad posture. Once you break yourself of this habit, you’ll be able to sit or stand straight without thinking about it.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, the key is to keep your spine in alignment. Start by rolling your shoulders back, then ensure that your ears are in line above them by pulling your head back.
If you need to, set a timer on your phone to give you a gentle reminder to correct your posture every half an hour or so. You can also invest in a posture corrector to encourage proper alignment. If you’re interested, you can view more here.
Don’t worry, you won’t need this forever. You’ll correct your own bad posture automatically before you know it.
Stay Healthy By Avoiding the Effects of Bad Posture
We all know that things like diet and exercise play a significant role in our level of health. But with so many things to focus on, it’s easy to forget that the effects of bad posture are just as detrimental as any other negative health habit.
Your body wasn’t designed to sit hunched over, it was built to move! And when you aren’t moving, you should be sitting or standing up straight. You’ll thank yourself for correcting your posture when you’re able to move freely and without pain later in life.
Interested in learning more about maintaining health and fitness at every stage of life? Take a moment to browse our blog.