7 Long Term Risks of Poor Posture And How To Reduce Risks
Just how important is proper posture for your overall health? Research shows that it is every bit as important as exercising, getting the right amount of sleep and eating right. It is also as positive for your health as avoiding drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
If good posture is great for your body and longevity, poor posture can be downright dangerous and painful. Take a look at these 7 long-term risks of poor posture, and you will find yourself consciously sitting and standing straighter and taller.
Poor posture wears you down. You constantly feel tired, and out of energy. That is because your muscles have to work harder to support your body when your posture is not correct. You inefficiently burn energy simply by moving, and this can lead to a consistently tired feeling.
Joint pain and stiffness
Degenerative osteoarthritis is the fancy medical term for arthritis that comes from years of wear and tear. Limited activity and years of poor posture have been linked to the joint pain and stiffness which comes from degenerative osteoarthritis.
Your body is an amazing machine. It actually begins to change your musculature and ligaments to promote whatever posture you consistently practice. This means that multiple back problems can arise from years of bad posture, because your spine and back muscles have been slowly realigned in an unhealthy position.
A tight, aching neck
As we just discussed, poor posture can cause excruciating back pain. And it can also negatively affect your neck. Ask anyone who works a sedentary job in front of a computer how their neck feels at the end of most days. Then imagine how that pain is magnified after suffering from poor posture over a lifetime.
Permanently damaged muscles
Years of poor posture can negatively stretch or lengthen your muscles. In some cases, the muscles affected by your poor posture no longer function properly, and cannot be repaired.
A weakened lung capacity
A lifetime of bad posture is directly related to decreased lung capacity. When you do not create the proper amount of oxygen to push out to all your body parts, you can suffer a myriad of health problems due to poor circulation.
Premature aging in appearance
When you slump and hunch over, you immediately look older. Another benefit of proper posture is keeping women looking younger, since good posture can reduce breast sagging by as much as 50% simply by standing tall and straight.
How to Improve Your Posture When Sitting Down
Let’s face it, try as hard as you might you can only eliminate so much sitting from your daily work day. However, there are several things you can do to improve your posture while you are sitting.
But before we get to those things, let’s first talk about the effects of bad posture. Do you have headaches, fatigue and back pain after spending a day at work? It could be caused from bad posture – specifically if your back is arched forward of your spine – called head forward posture.
If you do not consciously sit up straight, the tendency is to bend forward, especially if you are doing your work on a computer. This puts excessive force on your neck and back causing pain because they have to support the weight of your head forward of your spine instead of that weight centered on top of it.
The remedy? Sit with your ears, shoulders and hips in vertical alignment with each other. This is a “neutral” position as it does not produce excessive force either behind or ahead of your spine. All the weight of your head is centered over your spine where it should be.
One way to make that easier is to get something to sit on that does not have a back to it. A stool, kneeling chair or stability ball works great as it tends to build stronger muscles in the back and neck. For some reason, it is easier to have a more erect posture than when sitting in a traditional office chair.
However if you have to sit on a conventional chair, the backrest should have a curve that naturally conforms to your lower back. Ensure your back is contacting the backrest from your hips to your shoulders and sit with your feet flat on the floor.
If you have bad posture, you can improve it with these four exercises – the Prone Y,T,W L. The basic exercise is the same for all four moves; start by laying flat on the floor with your arms outstretched. Now lift your arms and shoulders slightly off of the floor.
What does change between each exercise is the position of your arms:
1. Prone Y – lay with your arms outstretched in front of you forming the letter Y.
2. Prone T – lay with your arms straight out from your sides at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions.
3. Prone W – lay with your elbows tucked back so you’re your arms form the letter W.
4. Prone L – Similar to the Prone W, except your elbows are more forward, thus having your forearms and upper arms forming the letter L.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. This will strengthen your upper and lower back muscles so they can better support you when sitting.
The bottom line is to minimize the amount of time you sit, but when you have to sit, make sure you do it with good posture.