Ever find yourself slouching at your desk, on the couch, on the computer, or while reading? If yes, than that’s a habit you’ll want to kick to the curb.
When we think about improving our overall health, posture usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Exercising and eating healthy are typically the areas we direct our focus to. Both are incredibly important, but improving your posture should be ranked just as high as nutrition and exercise.
Poor posture does much more harm than just affect your outward appearance. It adds extra pressure and strain on your body causing dysfunction to occur. When your posture starts coming forward, it can restrict your muscles, joints, and various bodily systems from working properly. As chiropractors, focusing on posture is one of our specialties, and we want you to understand just how big of a role proper posture plays in your overall health.
Here are 5 Surprising Ways Your Posture Could be Harming Your Health:
1 – Increase in Depression & Stress: Often times when we’re feeling depressed, sad, afraid, or uncomfortable, we tend to curl up and slouch our posture, as if we’re trying to retreat or hide from our troubles. However, studies are now starting to suggest that not only does this kind of posture reflect our current mood, but it can actually cause us to feel depressed, stressful emotions as well.
One study conducted, assessed a random group of individuals where half of the group was asked to be in an upright seated position, while the other half was in a slouched position. Their backs were strapped with physiotherapy tape to maintain this position. They completed various reading tasks and speech tasks throughout the study and were unaware that their emotional responses to the tasks were being evaluated. The study concluded that those in the upright position reported higher self-esteem, better mood, and lower fear than the slouched group. They also found that during the tasks, the slouched group used more negative words and emotions when speaking.
This is just one of several studies that has been conducted in this manner, where one group of individuals is asked to basically stand up straight, while the other group slouches while doing a certain task, and all studies produced the same results. This shows us that how we carry ourselves can instantly influence how we feel and act emotionally. So, this kind of posture on a regular basis, can really have a significant impact on our longterm emotional health. Try sitting/standing up straight for a day and see if you notice a difference in your mood and confidence!
2 – Digestion Problems: When you sit or stand hunched over constantly, you’re adding extra pressure on your body and compressing your inner bodily functions, such as your digestive system. That compression can make it harder for food and excretions to flow properly through the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to issues such as constipation, indigestion, gas, or acid reflux.
3 – Decreased Lung Function: Slouching over restricts the amount of oxygen that your lungs receive. By bending forward, you’re placing added pressure on the lungs making it harder for them to function correctly and decreasing the volume of oxygen entering your body. Think about when you bend over…it’s more difficult to breathe right? You’re folding your body over, making it harder to receive oxygen. That’s the same thing that happens when your posture starts to come forward.
4 – Causes Back Pain, Headaches, Shoulder Pain, & Neck Pain: Did you know that when your head is upright in proper alignment, it weighs about 12 lb.? And, for every inch that comes forward, an additional 10 lb. of head weight is added to your spine? That’s a lot of strain pulling on various parts of your body and can lead to muscle contractions and spasms that cause pain. Slumping over regularly is not how your body is meant to be properly positioned and it will cause pain in various regions whether that be your back, neck, head, shoulders, arms or legs!
5 – Fatigue: Your muscles have to work extra hard when you have poor posture because as you slouch, strain and pressure are placed on the muscles that is not natural to your body. That extra stress placed on the muscles drains away energy, often making you feel tired and fatigued much easier.
Lifestyle Tips for Improving Your Posture
Now that you’ve seen what poor posture can do to your body, we want to give you some resources and tips for how you can improve your posture. Provided below are what we consider to be some of the best methods for reestablishing a strong confident posture.
- Chiropractic Adjustments: Chiropractic adjustments are vital to developing a healthy posture. As chiropractors, we are able to evaluate your body for any kind of misalignments in your spine caused by poor posture. We work to adjust those misalignments, help your body get back to it’s natural posture, and restore function to your body. It’s really one of the best steps you can take to help your body feel and function correctly again.
- Yoga & Pilates: Yoga and Pilates are both great forms of exercise that work to lengthen, stretch and strengthen your entire body. They’re also very good at working your core. A strong core is essential to improving your posture, as your core really holds up your entire body. Once you start to let your core go, the easier it is to start slumping and slouching down. Try activating your core while sitting and we guarantee you’ll notice your posture gets straighter!
- Be Aware: You really need to be mentally aware of your posture in order to retrain your body to sit and stand up straight. When you’re working at any technological device, always try to keep it at eye level and avoid bending forward at all costs. Take breaks every hour to stretch while you’re at work. It’s not going to be an overnight fix, but being aware of how you hold yourself will help you reestablish your natural proper posture over time.
As always, we are here to help if you need it. If you would like to speak to one of our chiropractors about your posture, feel free to contact one of our two locations, East Nashville or Madison/Rivergate!