The way you stand or sit isn’t just about the way that you look. We all grew up hearing “Stand up straight” or “Don’t slouch. Sit up!” from our parents or teachers. The way we sit, stand, and even sleep impacts the health of our bodies and minds.
Good posture isn’t something we always think about. However, the effects of poor posture are so significant, it’s probably time to start. The negative impact of poor posture affects much more than your appearance. It can lead to high blood pressure, digestion issues, increased headaches, and much more. While some effects take time to show, it’s best to develop good posture habits now.
What is posture?
Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture, as defined by the American Chiropractic Association, is “the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.”
This is accomplished via the postural muscles, which include muscle groups like your hamstrings and back muscles. They help maintain your body’s position and balance while sedentary and in action.
6 Effects of Poor Posture
Poor Posture Effect #1: Knee and Foot Pain
Poor posture can create aches and pains or make already achy knees and feet worse. The malalignment of your spine puts extra stress on your legs. Through poor posture, you are forcing your body to carry weight and move in a way that it wasn’t designed to do. This stresses your joints, muscles and bones.
If you already suffer from arthritis, over time, additional weight and stress will make it worse and cause increasing pain.
Poor Posture Effect #2: Poor Air & Blood Circulation
Slouching your body, rolling your shoulders forward, or rounding your back impacts your body’s circulation; from your breathing to blood pressure. This particularly impacts those that may be sitting for longer periods, such as at a desk or in the car.
Getting up to move regularly throughout the day and being aware of your sitting posture can help your body’s blood flow improve. Poor blood flow can result in high blood pressure, varicose veins, as well as poor breathing and oxygenation.
Poor Posture #3: Digestion & Constipation Issues
Similar to the impact on blood circulation, being in a slumped or slouched position impacts the way that your internal systems function. A weak core or abdominal muscles, and thus poor posture, results in your intestines being squeezed together. This can impact your digestion and your bowel movements, potentially resulting in constipation issues.
Poor Posture #4: Increased Headaches
Typically when we think of posture we think of the position of our spine, shoulders, and hips. However, your head positioning can also be impacted. With poor posture, the head can be placed slightly forward and over time resulting in stiff muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders. Those tightened muscles can get strained causing occasional or frequent tension headaches if posture isn’t improved.
Poor Posture #5: Decreased Energy & Worsening Depression
Posture can affect more than just your body physically. Mentally, posture can affect your energy levels and can even make depression worse. Not only does it impact the way that others see them — less approachable and less motivated — but it also affects their own personhood. Multiple studies have found that people with slouched posture are less focused, have lower confidence and less energy.
Although good posture has not been proven to eliminate depression, it can make existing depression worse. In a study by the University of Auckland in New Zealand, “for severe, disabling depression, sitting posture is not likely to make much of a difference. But for mild or moderate depression, sitting up straight may help patients manage their mood and be more productive.”
Poor Posture #6: Fatigue
Studies have also verified the connection between posture and fatigue. Physically, through good posture, your body has improved blood and airflow; your muscles are not working against their intended movement, and our joints and ligaments are bearing less stress. Poor posture requires extra energy to maintain. It’s inefficient and exhausting.
Tips for Improving Your Posture
Developing good posture is a matter of breaking an old habit and developing a new one. This requires you to actively think about the way you carry your shoulders, head, and spine. Here are some quick tips to help you improve your posture.
- While sitting, keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest.
- Don’t cross your legs in a sitting position. Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
- Keep your head up. If you are texting or working at a computer, keep your vision up by moving the devices instead of tilting your head down. That will reduce the strain on your neck muscles.
- In a standing position, keep most of the weight on the balls of your feet.
- Stand straight and roll your shoulders back to prevent slouching.
- If you are standing for a long time, occasionally from your toes to your heels, or from one foot to another.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your side or back can be more helpful.
- Adding a special pillow for your knees or head can also improve your posture.
Chiropractic sessions target the body as a whole and can improve your general state of health and wellbeing by boosting your pain-coping capabilities, straightening your spine, and allowing you to battle daily stressors in a more effective manner.