Most people don’t realise they have bad posture until it starts to affect them in different ways. In fact, unless you ‘fix’ your posture, slouching will always feel more natural than keeping your back straight. This is when it really starts to take a toll on your body because your back remains rounded for hours upon hours, every single day.
What many people don’t realise is that bad posture has several negative effects apart from the usual backaches and discomfort. In fact, you may be experiencing health issues that are directly or indirectly related to your posture but just don’t know it yet. So, before we help you straighten out your posture, let’s talk about the ill effects of poor posture.
How Bad Posture Can Affect You
From pain and discomfort to lesser-known harmful effects; the ways in which poor posture can affect you is a rather long list. Nevertheless, as awareness spreads, perhaps more people will be committed to correcting their posture.
Take a look at some of the negative consequences of bad posture below.
Changes in Spinal Alignment
A healthy spine has natural curves that are intended to absorb shock. The shape of your spine can change with bad posture, thus, causing pain/discomfort, and increasing the chances of injury.
Forward Head Posture
Good posture is when your shoulders are back and your ears are aligned with them. When your neck and head are perpetually leaning ahead of your shoulders, this condition is called forward head posture which can cause multiple health problems. Neck pain, muscle imbalance, musculoskeletal dysfunctions, and pain/soreness around the upper back and shoulders are just a few symptoms of forward head posture.
For obvious reasons, bad posture will take its toll on your back and cause aches over time. This is because it puts an unnecessary strain on both the upper and lower back while also weakening your back muscles. The pressure experienced between the shoulder blades when maintaining poor posture also causes back pain and discomfort around the upper back area.
Poor posture compromises the space required by your diaphragm to contract and release which, in turn, interferes with your ability to breathe properly. Only a straightened back frees up this space and allows for optimal deep breathing.
Years of bad posture lead to the compression of organs which throws off one’s digestive process. This is a common condition in people who spend many hours a day sitting down (with poor posture). Not only does it slow down your natural digestion but it can cause other stomach-related problems too.
Since bad posture affects different groups of muscles, sleeping properly can be a problem because your body finds it difficult to relax. Unless you are able to find the perfect position that is comfortable for both your neck and back, you will not be able to sleep soundly.
Tips to Improve Your Posture
Finally, it’s time to talk about the things you can do to correct your posture, once and for all! Bear in mind that this is not an overnight process and, more often than not, you will not notice the benefits of good posture right away. Nevertheless, fixing your posture is critically important to maintain better health, and to avoid the plethora of health risks that come with bad posture.
Here are some of the most effective ways to improve your posture:
Pay Attention to it
This is easier said than done because, for most people, slouching is habitual. In order to break out of this habit, you need to practice being mindful about your posture. Perhaps an app or timer on your smartphone can be used to remind yourself to straighten your back every 30 – 60 minutes. Apart from this, try to pay attention to your posture when doing activities like reading, watching TV, walking, standing, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc. In time, you will be able to overcome the habit of slouching.
There are many types of exercises that actually train your body to maintain good posture. The most beneficial of all is yoga because it is all about breathing and body awareness. Additionally, strength training is an excellent way to improve your posture as stronger muscles help support your back and neck by default.
Keep Your Weight in Check
If you are overweight for your height, it is critically important to be mindful of your posture because the added weight will weaken your core muscles which cause you to slouch further. For this reason, and many others, it is important to maintain a healthy weight (as per your height).
Avoid Bending for Long Periods
Some jobs/tasks require bending and other body positions that are not good for your posture. If you find yourself in such positions, be sure to take regular breaks and use them to stand up straight. Remember, slouching becomes habitual when you are bending too much, too often.
Seek Chiropractic Care
Spinal manipulation and chiropractic adjustments will help put your body in the right position to improve your posture. The increased fluidity in joint movements after undergoing chiropractic treatment helps to relieve muscle tension, thus, making good posture a more natural occurrence.
Do a ‘Shoulders Back’ Check
Because slouching is something that we do subconsciously out of habit, it helps to focus your attention on your shoulders every now and then to ensure that they are pushed back in a natural position. Although it takes a long time to develop this habit, it will get easier, and also do a lot of good for your posture!
Maintain a Good Posture When Sitting Down
Many people find themselves slouching more when they are sitting down as opposed to standing up and/or walking. This is something you need to work on sooner than later because, eventually, the effects of poor posture will catch up with you.
Here are a few things you can do to improve your posture when in a seated position:
- Keep your lower back properly supported
- Avoid crossing your legs as much as possible; instead, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground with your ankles parallel to your knees
- Keep your shoulders in a more relaxed position without rounding them or pulling them back unnaturally
- Make sure you are using a chair with armrests at the correct height; your shoulders should not be forced into a shrugging position, nor should they drop low enough to become rounded
- Take a break every hour and walk around whilst keeping your back straight
- Incorporate simple stretching and mobility drills to avoid tight muscles and aches/pains
- Use a chair that is padded and allows your thighs to be parallel to the ground
- If you are looking at a screen, make sure that it is at the correct height (at eye level)
- Be mindful of your head and neck positions; avoid succumbing to forward head posture
If you have been struggling with poor posture for many years and are facing subsequent side effects, our licensed and experienced chiropractors at MSK Therapy can help realign your spine, relieve muscle tension, and improve joint movements which, in turn, ease your body into a natural, healthy posture.