We have all been told time and time again to stand up or sit up straight. Having good posture makes us look poised, confident, healthy and professional but there are many health reasons beyond this that we need to consider when we think of good posture. In our 21st century lives we spend the majority of our days sitting at desks, in cars or looking down at our phone screens. None of these positions promote good posture as it is in these positions that we slouch the most.
When we have good posture, we reinforce the alignment of the spine, neck and head. While slouching forces the head forward, the shoulders round and the back curves. The muscles in the body are forced to work overtime, some constantly being placed in shortened positions causing them to become tighter and tighter, while others are being lengthened and end up getting weaker and weaker. Constant bad posture trains the body to function incorrectly and this then transfers into all aspects of our lives.
Bad posture can lead to problems all over the body not only in the back but problems with muscle functioning, digestion, poor circulation as well as changes in mood and stress levels. Here are some negative side effects that bad posture can lead to
Pain and Soreness:
Poor posture puts excessive stress and pressure on the spine and neck as it is not in its optimal position. Due to the excess stress put on the bones and ligaments, structural changes, such as disk degeneration, can occur while the muscles can go into spasm due to the increase strain put on them.
Sitting with your legs crossed or your shoulders slouching forward can put excess pressure on veins, arteries and lymphatic vessels which can impact the circulation to and from specific areas. Fluids can build up where they shouldn’t and cause oedema pain and other problems.
When you have bad posture, the body has to work harder to try and keep upright and in a normal position, the body is supposed to be upright and have good posture and, so it fights all the time to be in this position. This leads to fatigue quicker than normal.
Decreased Motivation and increased stress levels:
Sitting slumped and slouched over can have a direct effect on your productivity, motivation and stress levels. A study released in Health Psychology found a direct correlation between individuals with bad posture and poor work ethic and low self-esteem.
So how can you improve your posture and prevent these negative effects:
First things first check the ergonomics of your working environment- look out for our next post on how you can optimize your desk and working environment using proper ergonomics. There are supportive braces that you can wear that can help you improve your posture, but this generally isn’t a cure and as soon as the brace is off, you relax your return to your old habits. The best and most effective long-term solution is to do corrective exercises.
Below are 2 simple exercises you can try that can help correct your posture:
Seated Rows with Thera Band:
- Sitting on the floor with your leg straight out if front of you.
- Wrap the Thera band around your feet and hold each end in your hands.
- Then keeping the elbows bend and tucked in next to your body, pull and row the Thera band backwards.
- Move slowly back to the starting position making sure to control the movement throughout.
- Repeat for 10 reps and 3 sets.
The Doorway Stretch to loosen tight Pec and chest muscles:
- Standing in a doorway, lift your arm so it’s parallel to the floor and bend at the elbow so your fingers point toward the ceiling.
- Place the hand on the door frame
- Slowly lean into your raised arm and push against the door frame for 10-20 seconds.
- Repeat the stretch 2-3 times
For more information give us a call and we can do a full postural assessment on you and give you specific exercises to strengthen and stretch your over worked muscles.