Can Bad Posture Affect Your Health?
It’s no secret that more and more we live sedentary lives. You’re probably reading this while sitting. And chances are, if you’re sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer, you’re not practicing good posture. Posture is something that we hardly take notice of, unless it’s causing us problems. But at this point, it could actually be harming other aspects of our health, too. Posture is connected not only to biomechanical alignment, but also to mood. Read on to find out how your bad posture could be affecting you both physically and mentally… and how better posture can help to straighten that up!
Main Risks of Bad Posture
Bad posture can certainly cause aches and pains in the back, shoulders, and neck, but did you know it can also affect your hips and knees? Along with this, according to a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic, people who have bad posture are predisposed to injury and even may be less efficient when they move. In addition, slouching can diminish space in the diaphragm and lungs and this shallow breathing can increase stress. Now you can see how posture can affect so much more than your back. Continually sitting, looking down at a smartphone, carrying heavy backpacks or bags, and wearing high heels can cause imbalances in muscles and muscle tightness and weakness.
Other Posture Issues
Beyond just physical pains, higher chance of injury, and muscle weakness, there are some psychological issues that can be caused or exacerbated by bad posture. Studies have shown that those who sit up straight or stand up straight and who have good posture tend to feel better about themselves. Slouchier postures or bad postures make people look less confident and can even make people feel less able or competent. A study from Harvard has shown that when people use powerful postures, they showed a 20% increase in testosterone and 25% decrease in cortisol – a stress hormone- levels. In addition, research shows that those who slouch may have a higher chance of depression, negative thinking, and be more moody. Carol Krucoff, a yoga teacher and author of Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain asserts, “Even our language reflects this connection between proper posture and emotional affect- someone weak is called spineless and someone proud has backbone.”
Tips for Better Posture
Here are a few things you can do, whether at your desk or on the couch, to break bad posture habits and start sitting a little taller.
1) Change positions every 20-30 minutes. This releases tension and keeps you aware of your body.
2) Keep your feet on the floor. This way your body is evenly in the chair, naturally putting the rest of your body at equilibrium.
3) Use a backpack rather than a heavy bookbag when you can.
4) Standing or sitting, make sure your head is in line with your shoulders. Even things out, starting from the top.
5) Push your chest out a little bit. This will help engage your lower back as well as open up space for your lungs. This “dominant” position could even make you feel more confident, and that’s never a bad thing.