Your posture is one of those ever-present but underrated aspects of physical health. Bad posture causes more than back pain. The fact is, your posture – whether good or bad – can have a profound impact on your physical health and your mental and emotional well-being. Even though your posture is one of the pillars of good health, it’s something that many people don’t think about until something starts going wrong.
This article talks about some of the problems that can result from bad posture, as well as the possible reasons your posture may be at risk. Read on for some helpful tips on correcting and maintaining posture so you can reap the benefits of high self-esteem, better sleep, and more.
Table of contents
What is good posture and how to detect it?
What is good posture and how to detect it?
Your posture is how you hold your body while sitting, walking, standing, or lying down. Ideally, your posture should reduce the strain placed on your supporting muscles while doing these – and other – activities.
Each person’s ideal posture is different because each person’s body is different, but you should be able to move freely without muscle strain. That said, there’s a general concept of what good posture should look like:
- Chin is parallel to floor
- Shoulders, knees, and hips are even distances from each other
- Spine is neutral not curved inward or out
- Elbows and knees are straight
- Body is balanced and evenly positioned over feet, facing forward
The harm of bad posture on your body
We’ve all heard the words “stand up straight” at some point in our lives. There are plenty of good reasons to encourage good posture because bad posture can have negative effects on your health. Below are a few ways bad posture can lead to poor health.
Decreased sleep quality
Most people experience sleeplessness at some point in their lives, but people with bad posture may experience it more often. If you can’t get comfortable, you’ll end up tossing and turning all night and even develop soreness in the spine as a result. A chronic lack of proper sleep can result in poor cognitive ability during the daytime, as well as the following negative effects:
- Lower immune system
- Decreased heart health
- Increased risk of cancer
- Impaired memory
- Diminished libido
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increase in skin conditions
- Back, neck, and shoulder pain
The most common health problems related to poor posture are pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. Poor posture puts a strain on your back and pressure between your shoulder blades, which can lead to pain. If you slouch with your head slightly forward, your posture puts strain on your neck by causing the neck muscles to tighten, leading to neck pain. Each of these problems is uncomfortable to deal with and can severely impact your ability to perform your day-to-day activities.
Sitting in a hunched-over position while at your desk, reading, or watching TV can cause intestinal cramps because gas is unable to pass through the body properly. When the digestive system is unable to work properly, it becomes weakened. While it’s widely thought that poor posture can result in increased stomach fat, this is not strictly true. Instead, what happens is your posture causes your hips and belly to protrude, making you look overweight.
Stress, lack of energy, and motivation
Unfortunately, stress is common in our busy world, and we can’t always deal with it in a timely and effective way. Bad posture causes physical pain, which can translate to additional mental stress that compounds what already results from daily life. The pain or discomfort stemming from poor posture also tends to have a negative impact on your ability to motivate yourself to complete basic day-to-day tasks. This, in turn, leads to feelings of being overwhelmed.
Most common things that affect your posture
Achieving and maintaining good posture is a bit of a delicate balance since many activities in daily life can contribute to bad posture. This section covers a few of the many ways the activities you do each day can reinforce bad posture.
Home or common office work for long hours
One of the biggest culprits for bad posture is sitting in the same position for long hours without taking a break, especially if the chairs or sofas you sit on don’t encourage proper posture. If you happen to be working at a computer or laptop and the resolution or brightness isn’t sharp enough, you may find yourself leaning forward to see better. This puts strain on your back and neck muscles, causing strain.
Cleaning the house in uncomfortable ways
Washing dishes at a sink that’s not at a comfortable height or leaning over to mop your floor can put considerable strain on your back and shoulders. While it may be difficult to maintain proper posture while you’re in the middle of scrubbing the bathtub, taking breaks to flex your back can alleviate the stress on your muscles, helping to prevent pain.
Improper posture at the table
Eating at a table that isn’t sized right for you can cause just as much back pain as sitting on the sofa eating from a plate on your lap. Sitting forward at a table and hunching over your dinner plate can cause strain on your upper back, shoulders, and neck. If you’re reading a newspaper or playing on your phone, leaning on your elbows forces your shoulders to be pushed upward, resulting in pain after a while.
Bad quality mattress
Over time, mattresses wear out and form depressions where your body causes the springs and other materials to stretch out. These depressions force the body into a poor sleeping posture, as the body essentially forms into the shape of the bed. If you’re a side sleeper, your muscles hyperextend on one side and bunch up on the other.
Reading and watching TV
Whether you’re sitting up or reclining on your favorite chair or sofa, chances are pretty good that your posture is out of alignment. If you’re in this posture for an extended period, you can force your spine into a curve, causing the muscles in your back to become stretched and strained. By shifting your posture every so often or standing up and doing stretches, you can alleviate much of the stress this simple activity puts on your back.
Tips on improving your posture at home
As easy as it is to put yourself in a position that causes strain on your back, neck, and shoulders, it’s just as easy to fix a potentially damaging situation. While some methods are obvious – like exercising and stretching – some may not be quite so obvious. In this section, you’ll learn about some of the many ways you can work toward improving your posture.
Ergonomic, posture-friendly furniture
Sian Victoria recommends using posture-friendly furniture can be as simple as getting yourself a firm support pillow or mattress. By using a mattress and pillow combination that supports proper spinal alignment, you’ll enable a comfortable sleeping position that promotes consistent, quality sleep.
For the daytime hours, an ergonomic standing desk for your home office helps you maintain good posture while working for long periods of time. Using the concept of ergonomics in your furniture will go a long way toward helping you achieve good alignment. Alternatively, consider using a kneeling chair in your office, which promotes spinal alignment by requiring you to kneel while working at your desk.
Exercises and being physically active
As every fitness expert will tell you, a good workout is a key part of a healthy daily regimen. There are many benefits to toning your body and building your muscular strength, and helping your posture is just one of these. Exercise may help you to strengthen your body in general, but when you target your core muscles and upper back, you support the spine and encourage better posture overall. Exercise can also improve how you look and feel about yourself.
Just as exercising regularly is important in helping to promote and maintain good posture, stretching also plays a vital role. Many people think of stretching as something you do before and after a workout to warm the muscles and then flex them after to help avoid stiffness. However, stretching can be done simply for its own sake. For example, by doing stretching exercises that target the chest, you reposition the scapula to improve body posture. You can also use eco-friendly yoga props which are designed to help you gain better postureJust as it’s important to have strong muscles, it’s also important to have flexible muscles.
Posture improvement devices
Let’s face it: the thought of having to use a back brace to support and correct your posture is not high on the list of things you want to do in life. Unlike the back braces of years ago, the braces in use today are made with comfortable materials and are designed to fit your body exactly. In addition to braces, you can choose from several support belts and digital posture reminders. These digital devices alert you whenever they detect you slouching.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way toward helping your posture. People who are an unhealthy weight have body fat that’s distributed in a way that creates stress on the spine and supporting muscular structure. For example, a fatty belly causes the lower part of the spine to be curved forward, which causes pain in the spine and in the muscles around it. By taking steps to reach and maintain a healthy weight, you not only take the stress off your spine but also your limbs.
Benefits of having great posture
The spine is the main support structure for your body. It holds our bodies upright and plays a key role in how well we move, so keeping it in good condition is important.
In this section, you’ll find five useful benefits you can achieve by simply improving your posture.
Great self-esteem and better mood
Have you ever noticed that people who slouch when they stand tend to exhibit low self-confidence or negative moods? This is because of embodied cognition, which suggests that an individual’s body positioning can affect their state of mind. When applied to posture, it means that good posture can foster better self-esteem and overall mood.
Think of the human as being like a giant pump. When we inhale, our ribs rotate and expand outward to give our lungs room to fill up with oxygen. The lungs function as kind of a bellows, taking in air and directing oxygen to various parts of the body. When we exhale, we breathe out carbon dioxide, which is a waste product. Lungs need to have this room to expand for us to breathe properly. When we slouch, we compress the ribs so they can’t expand properly to accommodate the expansion of the lungs.
Increased confidence and more energy
Increased energy and confidence come as a sort of by-product of good posture. We feel better when we get proper rest at night and go through our daily activities with minimal-to-no pain. When we feel better physically, we naturally have more energy to get things done and are often in a much better mood as a result. Not only does good posture help with energy levels and mood, but it also tends to foster greater self-confidence.
Less frequent headaches and migraines
Bad posture can cause back and neck strain, resulting in frequent tension headaches and migraines. One way to combat these headaches when they arise is to stretch your back or gently rotate your neck. An ounce of prevention goes a long way – tension headaches and migraines may be reduced simply by maintaining good posture.
Reduced risk of injury, especially in the elderly
When it comes to posture-related injuries, the elderly population is most at risk since their bones are more fragile than those of a younger person. Whether you’re elderly or not, taking care of your posture can reduce the chance of injury in the back, neck, or shoulders. As you get older, maintaining good posture becomes more important as your bones begin to lose their density.
Taking care of your back, neck, and shoulders by maintaining good posture is a key factor in helping you live your best life as pain-free as possible. By following the tips included here, you can improve your posture and help ensure good health and mental well-being.