The True Cost of Bad Posture and How To Prevent It
Written by: Tyler Read
In this technology era, it is common to sit for long hours behind a computer or glued to your phone. Often you’ll find yourself bending forward a little. Other times, the bad posture is a result of hunching over when walking or standing. This causes strain and tension as weight shifts to different muscles.
The slumped position, if not rectified, leads to health complications. You’ll feel pain and discomfort. With time it can progress from mild, acute to chronic pain that doesn’t go away. The bad posture mostly affects the shape of your spine, which in return, affects your health as a whole. As you’d expect, the health challenges come with financial burdens.
This article seeks to unravel the many health complications caused by bad posture. We’ll identify the common practices that go unnoticed yet pose a risk to your mental and physical health.
We’ll also present solutions to these problems; simple daily activities that you can incorporate to avoid or correct a bad posture.
So, if you sit, walk or stand a lot and have a problem maintaining an upright posture, this article is for you.
Let’s get started.
The Cost of Bad Posture Explained
Back and Neck Pain
Back and neck pain is the most common posture problem in the world. It is estimated that eight in every ten people experience this pain at some point in their lives. It is the most noticeable side effect of bad posture.
The pain is caused when you slouch your head forward, exerting extra pressure on your spine. This causes strain and tension in the lower and upper muscles leading to long term muscle pain and disc herniations.
This condition puts you in danger of spine misalignment and joint pain, which can cause further health complications.
Apart from poor sleep patterns and work, bad posture can also cause fatigue. A poor sitting, walking, or standing posture transfers your weight to areas not designed to bear that weight.
Over time, the tension causes stress and strain, causing your ligaments, bones, muscles, and joints to wear out. Equally, the strained areas would require more energy to maintain and compensate for your bad posture. High energy consumption leads to fatigue.
Mood and Concentration
There’s a strong connection between posture and emotions. Research published in 2014 by Health Psychology shows that poor posture leads to low self-esteem, fear, and bad moods. Ultimately, slouched posture can cause depression.
Standing with your shoulders back or your neck launching forward makes you uncomfortable. You’ll focus more on the discomfort than the task at hand; thus, losing concentration.
On the contrary, an upright posture has a positive effect. It improves your moods, boosts concentration, and increases your self-esteem.
Poor Blood Circulation
A bad sitting posture impairs blood flow in your body. Now, if you are sitting for long hours, you are at high risk of developing varicose veins. This is because the impaired blood circulation on your legs leads to pressure buildup in your veins, and since the vein’s walls are thin, this pressure can cause varicose veins. The poor posture also limits blood flow in other parts of your body.
If you are on a desk job, you’ll agree with me that you find yourself in a slouched position more often than not. So, the next time you realize you are slouching, you need to sit straight because the bad posture compresses your abdomen and chest, which in return squeezes your abdominal organs. The long-term effect? Slow digestion process, stomach issues, and compromised metabolism process.
Sitting in a slumped position after a meal can also cause heartburn. This is because of the pressure your sitting position puts on your stomach and back.
Your sitting and standing posture determines how well you breathe. Leaning forward when sitting or standing causes compression of the diaphragm.
It forces you to take shallow breaths. Compromised breathing leads to less oxygen in the vital organs of your body, such as the brain.
The immediate effect of shallow breaths is fatigue. In the long run, you’ll experience respiratory problems.
A bad posture interferes with your body muscles. You’ll find it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping posture. You can take ages tossing and turning to find the right neck and back position. Chances are you’ll end up sleeping for fewer hours and wake up exhausted than when you went to sleep.
Walking with your head facing down or your shoulders hunched forward causes strain and tension on your neck muscles. The muscles’ tightness leads to tension headaches. The pain can last up to a few days, or extend for several weeks.
From the foregoing discussion, it’s clear that a slumped posture constricts the diaphragm leading to breathing problems. The pressure that is exerted on the abdomen also compresses the heart and lungs. This limits the heart’s normal function.
The reduced blood flow caused by sitting for a long time makes it difficult for the heart to perform its duties. The overall impact is less oxygen reaching your cells and tissues, which leads to respiratory complications.
The natural shape of your spine is an ‘S.’ Your spine is naturally conditioned to absorb shock. However, consistent poor posture reduces its ability to perform this function. For example, if you consistently launch your head forward, your neck’s spinal curve is prone to straighten. This distorts the natural shape of the spine, putting you at risk.
Hunching your head forward, slumping your neck, and shoulders can cause temporomandibular joint syndrome (TJS). TJS is a condition that causes pain in the jaw. The bad posture causes the jaw muscles that connect to the skull to misalign, which further leads to wrong bite patterns.
The TJS condition causes pain when eating because every time you open and close your mouth, you’ll notice your jaw cramping, locking, popping, going into a spasm, or cracking.
How to Prevent Bad Posture
A bad posture has many effects, and when not taken care of can lead to further health challenges, even disability. Therefore, to help you refrain from the slouching position, here is a list of easy-to-implement strategies you can practice while walking, standing, or sitting.
- Consult a physical therapist. Practitioners with a health and wellness coach certification can diagnose the cause of the discomfort, provide insights, and tailor solutions to alleviate the pain.
- If you are on a desk job, schedule regular time intervals throughout the day to move around and stretch. It can be after every 30-45 minutes.
- Pay keen attention to your posture, especially when you feel tired. Maintaining an upright posture helps you stay alert.
- When using a computer, ensure your neck and chin are at 90°. You can elevate your computer or adjust your chair so that the computer’s screen is directly in front of you.
- Maintain an upright posture when sitting or standing. Ensure your shoulders are pulled back, and your back is straight. Take full deep breaths occasionally to fill your lungs with oxygen.
- Practice looking straight ahead instead of looking down when walking for an extended period of time.
- When sitting down, your feet should be rooted to the floor, and your body weight distributed equally between the two thighs.
- Integrate low impact exercises into your daily routine. These exercises help keep your body in great shape and tone down body fat, which would otherwise stress the back.
- Invest in a mattress that matches your sleep style. If you are a back sleeper, a firm mattress with smaller pillows will do the trick. For side sleepers, bend your knees slightly and use a pillow so that your head and spine are in line.
- Avoid wearing stilettos frequently as they put tension on your ankles and exerts pressure on your back, affecting the shape of your spine.
- When driving over long distances, avoid reclining backward. Instead, pull your chair forward and use a cushion, pillow, or rolled towel to support your back. Ensure your knees are slightly bent but not locked together.
And there you have it—proven strategies to help you maintain a good posture and live a whole, healthy life.
The adverse effects of bad posture are diverse. It is linked to several ailments, as seen above. Taking charge of your posture now may seem like a small thing, but it can tremendously improve your health and wellness. As you grow older, it is even more challenging to rectify poor posture. So, take the initiative now.
The self-management techniques above can help you with back pain, neck pain, or muscle discomfort. The key is getting started, no matter how bad the situation has deteriorated.
It is also better to visit a physician to get professional guidance on where the problem is and the measures to remedy the situation.
On the flip side, if you’ve not had issues with your posture, you are on the right track. Stick to the best practices to ensure your back, neck, head, and spine are taken care of. An upright posture ensures your joints, spine, and bones are aligned, and your weight is adequately supported.
About Tyler Read
Tyler Read is the owner of ptpioneer.com which is a website dedicated to helping people get started in the personal training industry. He helps people discover, study, and pass their fitness exams. Check out his free videos for the latest trends.