If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard one too many times from your parents to “stand up straight,” or “stop slouching.” It turns out, they were right. Again.
Apart from simply appearing less confident and even old, the potential effects of having bad posture include some serious health problems. Here are 5 of them to motivate you to start minding your posture more.
1. DIGESTION PROBLEMS
Your internal organs are spaced perfectly by default. When you slouch. However, you compress your intestines. This makes it harder for food to move freely through your intestinal tract.
The more food that remains stagnant in one section of the intestine, the harder and longer it takes your body to digest food, leading to constipation. This would, in turn, affect how your body absorbs nutrients. This lack of nutrition would affect your body’s metabolism and also how you digest and process food in the future.
2. POOR CIRCULATION
When you have poor posture, you alter how your spine is aligned. A bad spine alignment can cause your blood vessels to get constricted.
Not sitting or standing correctly reduces the pressure of fluids and nutrients that flow through our bodies. Reduction in this pressure reduces the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the areas of the body where they are needed.
It also increases the chance of developing dangerous conditions like blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and cardiovascular diseases.
3. BACK AND SHOULDER PAIN
When you slouch while sitting or standing, you cause your muscles to work overtime, leading to soreness and pain in the shoulders and back.
Most times, we overlook this pain as they usually pass after some time. If poor posture isn’t tackled early, however, it can lead to more serious health risks over time.
The chronic back pain felt is caused when the discs in the joints of the shoulder and back get degenerated due to slumping for a long time. The vertebrates thin out and lose their “shock absorber” effect.
It should be noted that over-correcting your posture can also have adverse effects. When you stretch your shoulders back too much, you can cause them to tense or stiffen up.
4. IMPACT LUNG FUNCTION
Your posture affects how much air you take in when you breathe in and out. Picture how your lungs get compressed when you slouch or lean forward instead of sitting or standing upright. Bad posture, therefore, affects your lung function negatively.
When your lung doesn’t function optimally, it affects a lot of different organs in the body which can lead to a total breakdown of the body system. When you don’t take in oxygen maximally, organs like the brain and heart gets affected, as both use oxygen as the energy to do their work.
When brain and heart activity decline, there is a decrease in cognitive function, and you experience shortness of breath. In very serious cases, heart and vascular diseases arise.
You can see that just from a little decline in lung function, a wide array of negative health conditions can arise.
5. CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
We have nerves in the upper region of our necks and backs that control the movement of the muscles in our arms, wrists, and hands.
When you have poor posture, the nerves in these areas get compressed, creating a higher risk for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The symptoms include a feeling of tightness and numbness in the muscles. There is also sensations of tingling and pain. Left untreated, CTS can lead to the loss of use of your hands.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING POSTURE
Now that we’ve looked at some of the most common health risks associated simply with poor posture let’s look at things you can do every day to improve your posture, whether it’s sitting or standing.
1. Tips for sitting properly
- Always keep your feet on the floor. If your feet can’t reach the floor, use a cushion or footrest.
- Leave a small space between the back of your knees and edge of a seat.
- When you sit, your knees should not be above your hips level
- Use a back cushion while sitting if there is space between your back and back of a chair
- Use a kneeling chair from time to time to strengthen your core and prevent slouching.
- Arms should be placed parallel to the ground and shoulders relaxed.
- Do not sit in one position for long periods of time.
2. Tips for standing properly
- Place majority of your weight on the balls of your feet
- Your shoulders should be pulled back, head forward and neck straight.
- The distance between your two feet should be at least the same as the width of your shoulder
- Lean back against the wall to check if you are standing straight.
- In instances where you have to be on your feet for long periods of time, shift the weight of your body from your toes to your heels, or from foot to the other.
Developing good posture early would make you healthier and function optimally. If you are experiencing problems associated with bad posture, visit a chiropractor. They should be able to make the proper adjustments to realign your body properly again.