You must remember how your mom kept nagging you to stand or sit up straight. She had a reason for doing that. Your posture has more influence on your health than you may think.
You may like to slouch over while sitting or standing, but it is less about likes or dislikes anymore. Once you have grown up, you had to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Not that you intended otherwise, but still it was somehow imposed on you.
With this lifestyle and over-obsession with smartphones, you are not giving your body any chance to stay in a good posture.
But What Good Posture is All About?
Good posture is also called a neutral spine. In an expert’s words, good posture refers to the condition when the muscles around the spine manifest balance and support the body evenly.
You can check right now if your posture is good or poor. If you are sitting, your feet should be resting flat on the floor while your weight should be distributed evenly on your hips.
Moreover, your back should be straight. Do not worry about the natural curves, i.e., on cervical, thoracic, and lumbar areas, as they are meant to be). Your ears should be right above your collarbones while your shoulders are back and relaxed.
If you are standing, your knees should be slightly bent, which means that neither you are hyperextending now locking your knee joints.
As for why good posture is necessary, you would be surprised to know that it not only prevents you from certain health issues but also determines the ways you look at the world and above all, yourself.
Why is Poor Posture Bad?
If your posture is not good, you can have a number of health issues including anxiety. A bad posture can ruin your day to day routine. It brings pain in different areas of your body and changes your outlook towards the world.
1. Low Back Pain
Poor posture resulting from standing or sitting in a hunched position for an extended period of time strains your lower back. It stresses the posterior structures of your spine including facet joints, intervertebral discs, muscles, and ligaments. If you are having low back pain for weeks, it may be time for you to check how you sit or stand for most of the day.
2. Pelvic Pain
If you have a bad posture in the lumbopelvic areas, you may have to face the pelvic floor dysfunction. It can cause trouble with urinary retention and pain during constipation or intercourse. If you are undergoing any such problem, stretch a few times during the day.
You may no longer need to go to pelvic specialists. That does not imply in any way that it is a replacement or an alternative to proper treatment. Nevertheless, standing up and moving around a bit in your lunch break would not hurt you much.
Yes, you can also have headaches from poor posture, as it causes tension headaches. When your posture is not right, it results in increased tension in your muscles at the back of your health. Once the position has been corrected, the muscle tension will reduce and alleviate the headaches.
4. Lower Energy Level
When your joints and bones lack alignment, your body cannot take proper use of your muscles. This results in fatigue and low energy. Your muscles have to work hard in the wake of this ‘de-alignment.’
5. Sleep Issues
Poor posture can lead to pain and alignment shifts, which further render it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. This kind of pain may be the culprit behind what you are calling as insomnia.
6. Tension in Your Neck and Shoulders
Your frequent use of smartphone has given you a forward head posture, which may have gone unnoticed. Nevertheless, this unnoticed thing is wreaking havoc on your health. It puts pressure on your shoulder, upper back, and neck areas in the face of the improper alignment.
It even impacts your mood and brain function. A Brazilian study, conducted in 200, found out that posture had a great link with the major depressive order. During the instances of depression, the posture of the participants changed. This posture change also included forward head posture.
7. Abnormal Wearing of the Joint Surfaces
Although your body wears down naturally with the passage of time, it can be prevented or at least delayed by maintaining a good posture. Moreover, if your posture is uneven, more issues and pain is bound to come when you reach the stage where your joints are to wear down.
8. Decreased Lungs Capacity
When you slouch, you compress your lungs. Whereas, if you are sitting straight and standing taller, you are giving more space to your lungs to expand.
This premise also gets its validity from research published in the BioMed Research International journal. It took into account 35 healthy young males aged 18-35 years.
The study indicated that the lungs capacity decreased in a slouch position while it improved a great deal when the participants sat upright.
9. Poor Circulation and Digestion
Poor posture also impacts your digestion and blood circulation. When you sit in a slouching position, you are compressing your vital organs. If your vital organs remain in a compressed position, your circulation gets cramped, and your digestion gets affected.
Proper blood flow required adequate alignment. Therefore, avoid such positions that put a strain on your vital organs. The most common thing we do that disrupts our blood flow is crossing our legs.
As for the digestion issues, poor posture can cause acid reflux or heartburn. In a hunched position, you would be compressing the organs in the abdomen that makes it harder for your body to digest food and affect metabolism.
10. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
This syndrome may sound new to you, but that does not mean it is not uncomfortable. Slumped shoulders and forward head position can constrain the nerves and blood vessels in the lower neck and upper chest. This syndrome is characterized by mild tingling, tingling, and in some cases, pain and bad circulation.
Usually, the symptoms diffuse, but if the syndrome goes untreated, it can cause many serious problems like blood clots and swelling.
11. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
In a forward head posture, your mandibular joint and jaw muscles undergo tension and stress. It can contribute to pain while you eat, yawn, talk, and also can result in a headache. Stress is a significant trigger of this pain, and when you are stressing your muscles too, it can only worsen your condition.
12. Low Core and Scapular Strength
You require muscular effort to maintain a good posture. However, the situation goes the other way round too. When you are not keeping a good posture, your core muscles and upper back muscles cannot work properly, or at least optimally, which causes fatigue and renders the weak.
While if you maintain a good posture, your core and scapular muscles become engaged and active.
13. Endangered Workout
When you are sitting or standing with a bad posture, you may not even notice that. But when you are exercising with a poor posture, you have a considerable risk of getting injured, especially while squatting. The reason for the high risk is that exercise involves stretching your muscles, and if they are already stressed along with the poorly aligned bones and joints, they are very likely to cave into the pressure and sprain.
14. Shorter Look
You appear quite shorter than your height with a poor posture. A good posture always makes you more attractive. It gives you a taller and slimmer look while making your abdominals look more defined. That may be another reason behind the evergreen charm of Emma Watson and Robin Wright.
15. Reduced Self Confidence
As mentioned earlier, your posture determines a lot regarding how you look at yourself. A poor posture decreases your self-confidence, as it affects the confidence in your thoughts.
In a study conducted by the researchers of Ohio State University, people, when asked to sit up straight, had more tendency to believe in the thoughts they wrote down about whether they qualified for a job.
How to Improve Your Posture?
With that said enough your posture needs to be perfect. If you cannot keep the same posture for a long time, change your position. If you have gotten tired of sitting upright, you can stand up and go for a walk or so. Nevertheless, here are a few simple steps you can do to maintain a good posture.
1. Sit Up Straight
Just like your mother, every chiropractor and even doctor would require you to sit straight. Not only that you need to sit up straight but upright as if somebody has yanked your hair straight up in the air (the simile may be horrific, but focus on the essence).
You should not be dipped neither should your spine be curved). All you need to do is sit upright and look straight ahead. Your feet should be touching the floor while your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
2. Do Not Sit on Your Foot
This is the cause of disagreement between the practice of sitting cross-legged and the experts. It disrupts the blood circulation.
Moreover, putting weight on one foot than other can also result in circulation issues. As for sitting on a foot, women are guiltier for doing this. It causes severe external rotational problems with the hip and knee you are straining.
3. Be Mindful of Your Sitting Posture
Even if you are sitting in a perfect chair, it is not going to help you if you are not sitting in the right posture. Your body must be in a neutral posture. Moreover, shifting positions frequently can also alleviate pressure on joints and ligaments.
While you are sitting, you have to make sure that your back remains supported and is upright or reclining slightly. Your head should align with the torso and shoulders be relaxed with upper arms remaining free and close to your body.
Your elbows have to be bent rendering your forearms almost parallel to the floor. As for your knees, they should be aligned with your hips.
4. Heels, Whither Away
If you intend to keep that necessary 90-degree angle when seated, you have to shun away from your heels. However, if you cannot do that, wear them once in a while and that too sparingly.
Not only that heels affect your sitting posture, but also they can ruin your alignment while standing. Standing while wearing heels can create an increased lumbar curve in the lower back.
Another apparently harmless thing is the wallet in your back pocket. Sitting on anything bulky can leave your body in an even situation that can twist your pelvis.
5. Work but Avoid Wearing Out
If you have a desk-bound job, you have to be more cautious about your posture. You should be eye to eye with the computer monitor, i.e., your eyes should be on the level with its top. If you have to work on a desk while standing, its top should be a little above your waist to ensure that you are working at elbow height.
If you are sitting, your thighs should fit underneath easily. Do not lean over the table surface. Getting closer to the edge will prevent you from doing that.
The way you sit or stand has a lot of influence on your overall health. It even determines the way you look at yourself. Poor posture can create a lot of health issues for you and can disrupt your daily life.
So, no matter how busy you are, no matter how important your next presentation is, or how late you are getting to make the food ready for the dinner party, you need to realize that you will only accomplish all this if your health is by your side.
Therefore, in order to be healthy both mentally and physically, be mindful of your posture, keep exercising, and take a walk after every while.