“Sit up straight.”
“Keep your shoulders back.”
As a child, you probably heard some form of those commands once or a thousand times. At the time, they were just words adults liked to say. Now, they hold a much deeper meaning. Bad posture doesn’t just make you look sad and pathetic; it affects your health.
Bad posture is an epidemic in the U.S. affecting millions of individuals. And it’s not a simple or unimportant matter. It causes more mental and physical complications than most people know and can have disastrous effects on your long-term health.
5 Negative Effects of Bad Posture
1. Adversely Changes Your Spine
Bad posture changes the alignment of your spine, putting pressure on areas that don’t need it. In your natural, healthy state, your spine has a certain curve to its shape. But after you spend years slumping at your desk and standing with bad posture, the natural curve of your spine is lost. In fact, the excessive strain can become so bad that it decreases the integrity of your spinal column causing your discs to weaken and compress and your vertebrae to erode. These changes not only cause long-term pain and discomfort, but the new alignment can even make you shorter and stop your ability to absorb shock and maintain proper balance.
2. It Worsens Depression and Stress
As stated earlier, bad posture doesn’t just make you look sad it actually makes you feel sad. A study at San Francisco State University discovered that students who slouched while they walked had increased feelings of depression and stress compared to those who skipped. A similar study at Harvard revealed that the way you carry yourself, with good or bad posture, can affect how you feel. For example, people with good posture saw a rise in testosterone, giving them a sense of power and control, and a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone.
3. Digestive Trouble
Bad posture doesn’t just affect your spine; it also affects your innards. Sitting and standing slumped over constricts your intestines, which can make digestion uncomfortable and contribute to issues such as acid reflux and hernias. Even more surprising, bad posture can impact your metabolism causing you to gain weight and to develop a belly pouch and larger bottom.
4. Increased Pain
When your body isn’t in alignment, it isn’t happy, and the way your body tells you its unhappiness is through pain. In fact, bad posture can lead to chronic back pain and disc degeneration. The reason why is because of increased strain on your back muscles, bones, and other parts of your body. Bad posture can even cause pain in other parts of your body including your hips, shoulders, and neck, leading to tension headaches.
5. Cardiovascular and Lung Issues
Just as slouching hurts your digestive tract, it also hurts your lungs and heart. An Australian study on bad posture found that individuals who sat all day slumped over their desks had a shorter life expectancy and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Part of that increased risk could be because bad posture also restricts blood and oxygen flow, making it more difficult to breathe, speak, and engage in physical exercise.
5 Tips to Improve Your Posture
1. Strengthen Your Back Muscles
If you want to get rid of your bad posture, first, you need to make it easier to stand and sit up straight. There are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your back muscles. They include squats with weights, lunges, and shoulder rolls. Doing these exercises a few times a week can make it easier to keep the correct posture.
2. Train Yourself in Good Posture
For most individuals, good posture doesn’t come naturally. That’s why you need to train yourself to sit and stand appropriately. The UPRIGHT Posture Trainer is simple to use and works in just 15 minutes a day. It works by gently reminding you to correct your bad posture and allowing you to track your progress over time.
3. Stand Up Often
It’s easier to have good posture when you’re standing. Take regular breaks throughout the day to stand up and walk around your office.
4. Fix Your Chairs
Since you most often have bad posture when you sit, make it easier on your body to correct the problem by investing in the right chairs. For your office, invest in an ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse. In your car, adjust your seat so your headrest is in the middle of your head and so your head is not more than 4 inches away from the seat.
When you live your life with bad posture, not only do you shorten your spine, you shorten your muscles. Stretching can help lengthen your muscles back to their natural state while also helping you to open up your body, so your organs get the oxygen they need.