Growing up, you may have experienced the parental tendency to grab your shoulders in order to correct your posture. While this may have felt annoying as a child, you can thank your parents now as it turns out that this probably served a pretty important role in your health today!
Bad posture can harm your health in many different ways. Even if you didn’t get scolded as a child for this, it’s never too late to start fixing your posture! It’s probably not a surprise that modern life can be very hard on our spines.
While our lives are less physically demanding than they were during the caveman era, this increased ability to be sedentary is usually worse for our spines than physical labor is. All the time we spend sitting at desks, hunching over computers or our phones, and carrying heavy bags can cause our spines to curve in unnatural ways.
There are many ways that this damage can manifest into other health problems. Let’s take a look at 8 different ways bad posture can harm your health!
It Can Cause Forward Head Posture
It’s easy for your neck to start curving forward to give you forward head posture when you aren't paying attentinon.
This occurs when your head leans forward in front of your shoulders instead of staying in line directly above them. The further your head leans forward, the more weight you are putting on your cervical spine, which is responsible for the mobility and stability of the head and the neck.
While the human head weighs about 12 pounds, the further the angle it leans forward the more that weight increases. At a 15-degree angle, the weight of your head increases to 27 pounds. While at a 60-degree angle, the weight jumps up to an astounding 60 pounds!
If you hunch to look down at your phone, think about how much extra weight your cervical spine is carrying. Some have even coined the term “text neck”! This forward head posture can lead to quicker spinal degeneration, pressure on the cervical joints, pinched nerves, neck pain, and a myriad of other negative effects.
Doctors are concerned that the younger generation will need spinal care in much higher rates. All due to our overuse of modern technology. Since most of us will need to use our technology on a daily basis, try to implement these daily practices:
- Do some chin tuck stretches throughout your day
- Elevate your computer monitor to an ergonomic height with an adjustable computer monitor riser or by using a standing desk
- Use a cervical pillow (also called an orthopedic pillow) when you sleep at night to support your neck’s natural cure
It Can Exacerbate Arthritis
Anytime your spine is out of alignment, it will put stress on all the other parts of your body. Especially if you have arthritis in your knees, poor posture can exacerbate the inflammation around your joints and cause you more pain.
Additionally, when these muscles are overworked from poor posture, the inflammation this causes can lead to arthritis in nearby joints. If you’re young, arthritis might not be something that’s on your mind yet. But taking preventive measures with your posture now will help reduce the risk of its onset at an older age!
Feel Like You Can’t Catch Your Breath?
Did you know that poor posture can affect your breathing? Your diaphragm needs the right amount of space to release and contract properly with each breath, and this process is inhibited when our spine becomes misaligned due to poor posture.
When your body is lengthened and in its proper alignment, your ability to take full, deep breaths may come easier! Being able to take deep breaths is vital as it allows oxygen to adequately get to all parts of the body that it is needed to rejuvenate and restore cells. Deep breaths are also helpful for reducing stress!
It Causes Circulation Problems
While being able to take deep breaths allows our body to intake oxygen, proper circulation is essential.
You guessed it - posture also has a direct effect on the function of our circulatory system. Sitting for long periods of time (as many of us do during a workday) can restrict blood flow in the body to various parts, leading to poor oxygen and nutrient distribution.
Every process in your body requires proper circulation to get the nutrients and oxygen to where it needs to go. So, impeded circulation can put you at risk for a lot of different negative health outcomes! Additionally, bad posture can harm your health by leading to high blood pressure and the formation of varicose veins.
It Leads To Digestive Issues
Poor posture can misalign the pelvis, which may lead to digestion and elimination issues. Sitting for long periods of time can put pressure on the pelvis, stomach, and intestine, causing your digestive system to move slower and less efficiently.
This can lead to stomach discomfort and constipation, and can even affect your bladder and urinary tract health. Movement is a key part of healthy digestion and can help improve your posture. With this being said, make sure you are not spending every day slouched over a desk!
When your spine isn't in alignment, your muscles have to work harder to keep your body in its natural alignment. Unfortuantely, this can lead to feeling more fatigued than you should be.
Because circulation can be affected by bad posture, fatigue can set in from certain organs not receiving adequate oxygen/ nutrients.
It Could Cause Headaches
Poor posture can lead to tight neck muscles and inflammation in the neck, which can cause headaches. It’s all connected - so anything that places pressure on your shoulders, neck, and head, can significantly increase your chances of getting headaches often.
Headaches are often associated with sinus issues. It’s even possible that any pressure on the upper cervical spine can cause sinus headaches. Headaches can ruin your day, so if you constantly struggle with them but don’t know why, it’s worth checking if your posture could be causing them!
Need a Mood Boost?
Have you ever felt that your mood is often low? While there are many things that can contribute to a poor mood, it’s worth checking if your posture is one of them.
Slouching often can lead to strain on your neck and back and can cause fatigue and irritability. Bad posture can harm your health by hindering oxygen and nutrient availability, which can in turn cause you to feel poorly.
Sitting with proper posture can also help you feel more confident while slouching is often associated with lower self-confidence. This makes sense if you watch how your body language reacts to stimuli that make you excited and happy versus scared and hurt.
When you’re in a good mood about something, it’s likely that you will stand tall at your best. When something bad happens, people often unknowingly shrink down. If you’re not having a great day, try tricking your brain with good posture!
At The End Of The Day
These are just some of the ways that bad posture can harm your health!
Many doctors speculate that there are lots of other health conditions that can be exacerbated by poor postures, like sinus issues, sexual dysfunction, digestive disorders, hormonal issues, and more.
Your spine is working hard to hold everything together in a functional manner, so protecting it from curving in unnatural ways may help reduce the risk of many unwanted health outcomes. Here are some quick tips to remember!
Good posture is when you are sitting, proper posture occurs when your chin is kept parallel to the floor, your chest is lifted rather than caved in, and your pelvis is not tucked under your body.
It can be hard to catch yourself slumping throughout the day, so many people are turning to posture-correcting technologies to help them stay on track with their posture goals! There are many out there, like Upright Go, that keep your spine in check throughout your day. You can even set reminders on your phone throughout the day that remind you to sit up straight!
Whatever method it is that helps you remember to keep an eye on your posture, make the effort to do it today so that your body will thank you tomorrow.