Your grandparents may have been onto something when they scolded you for slouching. “Stand up straight! Don’t slouch in that chair!” Well, it turns out this is good advice.
Good posture has countless health benefits, while poor posture causes numerous issues. Whether you want to boost your confidence, get rid of back pain, or get your grandma off your back (quite literally), improving your posture can do wonders.
So, if you’re ready to fix your lousy posture once and for all, keep reading.
Causes of Bad Posture
There are many causes of bad posture and reasons why you might be slouching. Bad posture occurs when the muscles that help support your bones are out of alignment.
Some of the most common causes of bad posture include:
- Desk jobs or sitting for extended periods
- Poor exercise routines since strong muscles help support good posture
- Injuries and muscle guarding such as overcompensating as a way to protect vulnerable areas
- Muscle tension that hasn’t been worked out
- Weaknesses and muscle imbalances due to poor form when exercising
- Daily habits like leaning your neck forward while scrolling on your phone or standing in an unhelpful way at your job
- Stress which can cause you to hunch over as a protective response physically
- Unsupportive footwear that throws off your normal weight distribution
- Genetics and hereditary conditions
Keep in mind that a combination of these reasons can cause bad posture. But before we get into how to fix bad posture, let’s talk about the risks first.
What Bad Posture Does to Your Body
Bad posture has adverse effects on your body. Those constant aches and pains in your neck, back, and joints can easily be caused by your poor posture.
Harvard Health points out that poor posture can also lead to incontinence, constipation, heartburn, slowed digestion, poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties.
Bad posture can also contribute to fatigue as you’re required to work harder to hold yourself up, mood swings from constantly living with pain, and even your sexual function can be thrown off!
Long story short, settling for bad posture is just not worth it.
How Bad Posture Causes Back Pain
Probably the most common complaint of those with bad posture is some sort of back pain.
Your body is made to sustain its own weight with everything evenly distributed to take pressure off your bones and joints without pulling on muscles unnecessarily. Your head weighs a lot, and when your spine is out of alignment, it can tug and pull on all the wrong places.
When you’re counteracting the natural curve of your spine, you’re putting extra strain on your joints and causing muscular pain as your body does its best to compensate. So, if you’re noticing constant back pain, consider whether your posture needs improvement.
What Bad Posture Looks Like
Bad posture has a lot of variations. And since your spine naturally curves, it can be hard to differentiate between healthy posture and poor posture. That’s right. Trying to force yourself to stand up completely straight is also an example of bad posture.
Consider the image from Healthline below, for example. Many people mistake flatback or swayback posture for good posture when it’s not the way your spine most efficiently distributes weight.
Speak to a physiotherapist, health professional, or personal trainer about your posture to see if your posture could use a tune-up.
How to Fix Bad Posture
To fix bad posture, there are a few things to try.
Get into an exercise routine.
Exercise is key to improving posture. When we exercise, we’re activating our muscles in a way that supports our bones and joints, including our spine. When we improve muscle imbalances and help to support our spine with strong muscles, our posture naturally improves.
More specifically, improve your core strength.
Especially if you’re experiencing back pain due to bad posture, focus on improving your core strength. Your core is so essential in supporting your spine, and a strong core will help you maintain better posture in the long run.
Adjust your desk setup.
If you have a desk job, make sure that your computer screen is at eye level, and your chair offers able lumbar support. You may need to raise or lower your screen and use a small pillow at the small of your back to support your spine’s natural curvature while sitting at your desk.
How Good Posture Affects Your Brain
Did you know that good posture can affect your brain? Remember how we mentioned that neurological triggers like stress can cause poor posture? Well, good posture can do the opposite and help you feel more relaxed, more confident, and can improve your overall mood.
On the physiological side, less compression in your body means you’ll be getting better airflow which improves brain function and helps create a calming effect. These are all incredible reasons why good posture is so important.
Tips on How to Make Good Posture a Habit
Like anything, improving your posture will require some habitual changes.
Give yourself cues to straighten up.
If you’re known to slouch at your desk, set an alarm every 30 minutes to remind yourself to sit up straight.
Focus on your form.
While you’re exercising, remember, it’s better to do less with the right form than a lot with poor form. You might use a mirror when you exercise to remind yourself to maintain good posture while you exercise.
Take progress photos.
You likely won’t notice your posture improving from day to day, even if you’re working on it. So, take a progress photo every month to check in with how much your posture is improving.
All in all, better posture leads to better health and vice versa. So, start improving your posture today!