How Your Posture Affects Your Overall Health
We all probably have a memory of a parent or teacher telling us to stop slouching and sit up straight. These kinds of remarks are irritating, but they aren't ill-natured. Your posture, or how you hold your body while sitting or standing, provides the foundation for all of your movements and can influence how well your body adjusts to stress.
- Bad posture can lead to intense pain in various parts of the body
- Bad posture affects your organs and their efficacy, which can lead to a variety of issues you don't expect
- You can improve your posture through exercise and practice
What exactly is good posture?
While standing, you should be able to draw a straight line from a position just in front of your shoulders to behind your hip, to the front of your knee, to a few inches in front of your ankle if they are aligned. While sitting, your neck should be vertical, not angled forward. Your arms should be close to your trunk and your shoulders should be relaxed. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be at a right angle.
Good posture is also known as having a neutral spine. The muscles surrounding the spine are balanced, and support the body equally when we have good posture. When viewed from the front or back, all 33 vertebrae of the spine should appear stacked in a straight line. The spine should have three curves when viewed from the side: one at the neck, one at the shoulders, and one at the small of your back.
This “S” shape keeps your center of gravity directly over your support base, which allows you to move efficiently with the least amount of stress and muscle strain. These curves also assist us in staying upright and absorbing some of the tension and stress associated with activities such as walking and jumping.
Effects of poor posture
To understand the effects of poor posture, it is important to understand how it can come about and worsen. Posture is influenced by stressors, which can also include things like lifting or carrying heavy objects or sitting in an uncomfortable position. Really, any movement can function as a stressor. And then there's gravity, which we all deal with on a daily basis, a constant stressor. Your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright and balanced if your posture is poor. Over time, some muscles will tighten and become inflexible. Others will be held back, leading to pain along with other side effects including:
Lower back, neck and shoulder pain
Your lower back is stressed when you sit or stand in a slouched position for long periods of time. It puts pressure on the intervertebral discs, facet points, ligaments, and muscles, which are located all along the back of the spine.
Bad posture can cause tight neck muscles and disrupt your spine's natural curvature, resulting in headaches. Neck muscles that are tight can cause pain to radiate up to the head.
Reducing breathing capacity
You're squeezing your lungs if you slouch. Your lungs have more space to expand if you sit and stand with good posture. Getting more out of each breath enables you to function better because your cells with have better access to oxygen.
Temporomandibular joint syndrome, is a condition caused by poor posture. Poor posture can induce an improper bite pattern, which affects your temporomandibular joints – the two joints that connect your jawbone to the temporal bones of your head – because it misaligns the spine. These joints are similar to hinges in that they allow you to open and close your mouth. Poor neck and shoulder posture, as well as forward head posture, can lead these carefully balanced joints to misalign. Jaw joints that are misaligned are more likely to pop, lock, cramp, or even spasm, resulting in jaw pain and difficulties chewing.
Weak core muscles
Maintaining good posture demands muscular effort. Your core and upper back muscles will remain active and engaged if you maintain good posture.
By exerting pressure on one portion of the joint and creating discomfort, misalignment found in bad posture can increase the consequences of arthritis over time, commonly arthritis in the knees. Your general function and quality of life may be harmed as a result of the pain.
Decreasing sexual function
Sitting with improper posture might have a negative impact on your sexual function. Sacral sitting, also known as rounded lower back sitting or slouching, affects men's and women's sexual function because it shortens and tightens the pelvic floor muscles, which are our primary sexual muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are tight and weak, they are unable to use their full strength, resulting in weak or absent orgasms.
Men and women's sexual function can be affected differently by weak pelvic floor muscles. Research has suggested, men with a shorter and tightened pelvic floor as a result of bad sitting posture, may have less stamina and have weak ejaculations while women with pelvic floor disorders may have lower sexual arousal and fewer orgasms.
Research has also shown that when compared to a slumped posture, adopting an upright seated position in the midst of stress can help to retain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and boost positive mood. Additionally, sitting upright increases speaking rate and decreases self-focus. Sitting up straight may be a simple behavioral method for building stress resilience.
Tips for improving posture
- Try rearranging your environment: Make sure your screen is at or just below eye level. Make sure all of your body parts, such as your elbows and wrists, are supported, and use ergonomic supports if necessary. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees and your neck supported. Use a headphone for phone calls and wear shoes with low heels and sufficient arch support.
- Keep moving: Standing for lengthy periods of time with decent posture can be worse than moving with terrible posture on a frequent basis. If you spend a lot of time sitting, get up and move about on a regular basis, and always be sure to exercise regularly to maintain and strengthen your body.
Posture is important, so actively working on it is in your best interest. Even if you have bad habits, you can always improve your posture.
Written by Kiana St. Onge