Growing up, you’re always told to “sit up straight” or “don’t slouch!” I don’t know about you, but as an adult, I do anything but.
I spent most of this last weekend sitting at the computer wasting away on the internet, smooshed into a little ball on the chair. Either hunched over or leaning back into a curved husk. And it got me thinking : what does bad posture do to my body? Internally. Mentally. Physically. So, you know me : let the research begin!
Just what is good posture? Thanks to rethinkingcancer.org, they’ve broken it down for us:
“When sitting, get you low back and hips close to the back of your chair -if you don’t, stress is created by the curved position of your back and this curve will gradually become a postural habit (defect). Try to keep your stomach reasonably in and up – the same with your chest – sit as tall as you can, keeping the shoulders relaxed. It is better to keep your feet flat on the floor or crossed at the ankles rather than crossed at the knees. If you must bend over you desk when working, keep your back straight and move forward from the hips – don’t bow your back. When standing or walking, keep tummy comfortably in and up, chest fairly high, head not bent forward, keep your shoulders loose. If walking, lead with your front thigh on the striding leg, land lightly on your heel and rock up to the ball of the foot and try to keep your toes pointing straight ahead. When standing, don’t sag on one hip.”
Their page also offers several links (at the bottom) for ways to work on obtaining better posture.
Skeletal & Muscular Issues
Poor posture can misalign the spine, which may lead to pain or even muscular or skeletal issues. It may also cause issues with the cartilage and connected tissues between your joints, which are now bearing the load of your shifted weight, your poor posture, your hunching over, your slouching. This may also add to any pain or long-term skeletal issues. These misaligned or over-stressed connective tissues may also alter the muscle growth, strength, or stature. And *augh* the degredation of those discs and connective tissues may lead to osteoarthritis, which none of us want.
The altered state you place your body in with poor posture will likely increase any muscle soreness. You’re stressing your muscles and sinews in a way that your body wasn’t intended to support your weight. This added stress may lead to chronic neck and back pain. Feeling a bit tense? Try to be diligent in your posture, see if it begins to help alleviate that pain.
Blood vessel constriction may be caused by spinal misalignment. What is blood vessel constriction? It’s when your blood vessels are literally constricted, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to cells in your muscles. In the case of spinal misalignment and blood vessel constriction, you may be depriving vital muscles and nerves around your spine of oxygen and nutrients. Blood vessel constriction may also increase your chance of blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
Like blood vessel constriction, spinal misalignment may also cause nerve constriction, or “pinched nerves.” When a nerve becomes pinched, it can send pain not only to the immediate area where the damage is occurring, but anywhere along that nerve.
Studies have found that sitting with poor posture, or hunched, may reduce your lungs’ efficiency and capacity. Your breathing is shallower, and your heart is getting less oxygen, having to pump a little bit harder…a little bit faster, in order to circulate oxygen throughout your system.
Sitting with hunched shoulders also restricts the ribs, lungs, and diaphragm.
Sitting scrunched or hunched may alter your regularity. Visualize with me : your intestines are no longer free like a bird : they’re trapped in a hunched up position. They may not be movin’ and groovin’ as smoothly as they normally should.
Some have suggested that poor posture can cause fatigue : that it takes a lot of your body’s energy to hold and maintain poor posture. Since it’s not a “natural” position, you’re burning more energy to hold the position. Add to that your diminished breathing and oxygen-intake. You may just be feeling more sluggish these days because of your posture.
There was a professor who asked his students to walk down the hall in a slouched position and to also skip down the hallway. The students reported less energy and were more depressed when walking slouched; and more energetic and happy while skipping. This may not prove that your mood is truly effected by your posture, but what can it hurt to walk a bit straighter…or skip?
I for one need to work on bettering my posture. But having learned that it effects more than just my neck and back muscles, I’d like to work on it on a regular basis. I encourage you to do the same 🙂 Sit up straight! Suck those abs in! Breathe! Stretch and walk around. And stand up straight! Ha. Our mothers were right…
(Updated March 27, 2019)
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa