How posture affects general health…
Do you dread getting out of bed every morning? Do you groan when you put your feet on the floor and does your back protest when you straighten up? Chances are, your spine isn’t what it used to be. This may not necessarily be age related, but could be due to bad posture.
How many of us are aware of the importance of good posture? Do we even realize that we are slouching when we walk around? Or that we are hunched over when we sit at our computers? In fact, many of us don’t even realize that we continue slouching even after we get up from our computers. And then, over a period of time, a number of health issues that are seemingly unrelated, manifest themselves as a result of bad posture.
The negative effects of poor posture
For starters, the most obvious fallout of bad posture is that your spine’s, and hence your whole body’s, alignment is thrown out of kilter. This affects the way the nerves, discs and vertebrae function when pressure is exerted on the wrong points. This in turn, affects the nerves and muscles that run through your body. And over time, it can also negatively impact your knees and hips.[url-holder]
Do you know what it’s like to have a pinched nerve in your spine? Have you experienced the tingling and numbness in your extremities? Or the excruciating pain that radiates down the sides of your legs? It’s not pleasant and can eventually cripple you. And all because of bad posture.
Furthermore, when bad posture is coupled with excess weight, the joints and discs in the spine can degenerate faster and can result in herniated discs and arthritis, which can be very painful. And these are just a couple of the side effects of poor posture.
Your posture can also cause respiratory problems. When you slouch, or sit leaning forward, you basically squeeze your lungs. This makes them smaller and reduces your breathing volume. So, your breathing becomes shallower and less oxygen enters your system. Ergo, you have less energy.
Another casualty of poor posture, in your body, is rib dysfunction. Apart from an injury, you may also experience painful ribs due to bad posture affecting the muscles between your ribs or irritating the joints where they are attached mid-back. The end result is a painful mid-back or pain that wraps itself around your sides.
Maintaining poor posture for a long period of time tends to stress out your spine and can result in anatomical changes such as curvature of the spine, which can cut off nerve supply. Needless to add, this can be a very painful condition with long term repercussions, especially as one ages. Sciatica and lumbago are two such conditions.
Another condition that is aggravated, and sometimes caused, by bad posture is spondylitis – whether in the cervical, dorsal or lumbar regions. This can be very painful and can also cause vertigo and/or blackouts if the condition is severe. You may also find yourself laid up in bed for days on end, often in too much pain to even roll over onto your side.
If you find all this information too much to swallow, consider all the gastrointestinal problems that can be caused by bad posture such as craning your head forward continuously, like when you are leaning over your computer. This forward head position can lead to acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, leaky gut, heartburn, bloating and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).[url-holder]
If you’ve been wondering how you got those varicose veins, that terrible stabbing pain between your shoulder blades or that debilitating lower back pain, take a long hard look at your posture and see if you can do things any differently. And how about that pain in the neck (and we’re not necessarily referring to your boss!) that you keep trying to alleviate by twisting and clicking your neck from side to side?
And here comes the clincher – a 2014 study concluded that poor posture can have a negative impact on your mood and can compound issues such as fear, anxiety and depression. Hopefully, this will make you sit up straighter!
Don’t blame your poor computer!
It’s true – slouching over a computer alone isn’t the only cause of bad posture. Do you find yourself sitting or standing with your spine rounded out? Or do you walk around with your shoulders drooping? Or are you one of those people who are constantly texting on their smartphones? If so, be prepared to deal with the pain in your shoulders, neck and back.
Once you identify poor posture as the cause of your health problems, you will know what steps to take to rectify the situation. The first step would obviously be to improve your posture. Keep your shoulders back in a relaxed position, straighten your spine, pull in your abdomen and tuck in your behind. Ensure that your spine is aligned in a straight line with your body, neither tilting forward nor backward. Keep your breathing relaxed and don’t allow the muscles in your back to tense up.
Apart from improving your posture, do consult your physician, who may recommend exercises, physiotherapy, yoga, acupressure, massages, diets, weight loss or supplements, among others, to help you heal quickly and maintain general health.
So, chin up, shoulders back, spine straight – and remember, a good posture means a good mood and positive energy!