Is poor posture harming your health? Your bad posture can lead to body changes that aren’t normal or cause the body to align properly. There is good news, it is correctable but it is going to take time. The amount of time varies from patient to patient and it depends on the severity of the problem. We don’t want to make false promises and give you incorrect information so if you do suffer from bad posture it is best to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can take x-rays to rule out any potential medical problems. They can also prescribe physical therapy to help teach you exercises to help improve your posture.
Dr. Kenton Fibel, a family medicine physician who specializes in sports medicine, says, “Having poor posture can put more stress on certain muscles and joints, forcing them to be overworked and causing them to be fatigue. Many patients with chronic pain can be helped by addressing their poor posture”. The signs and symptoms of poor posture are caused by continually causing your body to be out of alignment ie slouching. Slouching on occasion usually isn’t a cause for concern.
Our sedentary lifestyle is contributing to health problems that could be prevented if we just got up and moved more throughout the day. The body was designed to move and be active. Technology has made it easier for many people to perform our job duties. However, sitting at a desk using a computer all day long has caused a large number of people to live a sedentary lifestyle and it is the number one cause of bad posture. Most people don’t sit at their computer desk properly causing their body to be misaligned for several hours a day. Then we go home and use the computer or spend time on our cell phones. When you constantly look down at your phone, again it is causing the neck to be out of alignment and doctors are referring it as text neck.
Do you have the signs and symptoms of bad posture?
- rounded shoulders
- not using ergonomic workstations appropriately
- unexplained body aches and pains
- bent knees when standing or walking
- muscle weakness
- Your head falls forward or backwards
- unexplained back pain
- sway back
- hunched shoulders or upper back
- your shoes might show uneven wear typically on one side of the body
- frequent tension headaches
- increased pain at certain times of the day
- pain that subsides when you shift positions
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is best to schedule a visit with your PCP or an orthopedic dr if you are lucky to not need a referral to see a specialist.
What Type of Health Problems Could Be Related to Your Bad Posture?
Do you ever remember hearing your mom tell you to sit up straight or to stop slouching? Growing up it wasn’t my mom who used to always tell me to sit or stand up straight. Little did I know, my grandpa was right. Slouching is a bad habit and it could even be causing your health problems.
Interferes with Proper Breathing
Take a deep breath and take notice of your breathing when you are sitting up straight vs slouched over. Can you tell a difference? Proper breathing requires you to use your diaphragm to move air in and out of your lungs. When you are hunched over, your diaphragm doesn’t have the proper amount of space needed to move to allow your lungs to expand so that the oxygen can reach your bloodstream. Lungs that don’t fully inflate can’t deliver the proper amount of oxygen that is needed for your body to function properly. Lack of oxygen equals a decrease in energy levels.
Causes Forward Head Posture
Did you know that average human head weighs 10 to 11 pounds? Leaning forward causes your head to feel like it weighs more than it does and it leads to muscle fatigue in your neck and shoulders. Slouching causes your head to move forward and it shifts your head and neck alignment forward putting added pressure on your neck and shoulders. Continued slouching can cause your muscles to tighten and relax in other areas. To achieve proper head and next alignment when you are sitting up straight.
How can I tell if I have proper head and neck alignment? Your ears should line up with your shoulders when you are looking a side view picture of yourself if you have proper head and neck alignment. If your ears aren’t lined up with your shoulders, we recommend that you see a doctor to help determine the course of action needed to correct forward head posture.
Does your jaw hurt, have you noticed that you clench your teeth at night, or have difficulty chewing? Poor posture may be to blame for your jaw pain. Constant forward head posture can strain on the delicate muscles that attach your jaw temporal bones. The delicate muscles are easily strained and it can cause your jaw to become misaligned. Misalignment can cause your jaw to pop, muscle spasms, and locked jaw (not to be confused with lockjaw caused by tetanus).
Frequent Tension Headaches
Constant bad posture causes the muscles in your neck and shoulders to tighten. Tight suboccipital muscles, muscles at the base of your skull, can start to feel like someone is tightening a vice grip that starts at the base of your neck and wraps around your head. Slouching, constant head forward tilt, grinding teeth, whiplash, poor ergonomics at your workstation, eye strain, and wearing new glasses can contribute to tension headaches too. So next time you get a tension headache, take note of your daily activities. Is there anything that you think could be causing your muscles to tighten? More than likely, if you improve your posture, your tension headaches could slowly disappear. Seek advice from your doctor or chiropractor to determine the proper treatment.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night wincing in pain because your shoulder hurts? Over time, your bad posture cause strain on the muscles that connect your neck and upper back to your shoulder. Those muscles were designed to support your body weight when your body stays in the correct alignment.
Repeated poor posture causes the muscles and soft tissue to adapt over time an unnatural body position. As your body slowly adjusts to an unnatural body position, it causes the surrounding muscles and tissue to adapt by lengthening or shortening them. These changes put increased strain on the muscles and tissue that surrounds the bones, joints, and ligaments in your neck, upper back and shoulder. Muscle imbalance can contribute to fatigue, joint pain, or joint stiffness.
Poor posture could be causing your digestive problems from gas, constipation, indigestion, or acid reflux. When you are constantly hunched over, whether you are sitting or standing up, it compresses your vital organs including your digestive system. This added pressure and compression makes it harder for your digestive system to function properly.
Your digestive system is similar to a garden hose when it is kinked it can slow down the amount the of food and excretions to flow properly. When your digestive system isn’t functioning properly, you probably don’t feel your best. The good news is that this problem is treatable.
When you spend hours a day sitting at the computer hunched over, you are causing your spine to be out of alignment. As mentioned above, over time your muscles and soft tissue in your back starts to adapt to the position that you spend several hours a day sitting or standing to perform your job duties. Slowly your body begins to get accustomed to the position that you spend the most time in and your muscles have to lengthen or shorten. This causes strained muscles causing them to become fatigued. Fatigued muscles will begin to hurt and spasm. So if you notice that your back pain comes and goes at a certain part of the day, it is most likely due to poor posture.
Poor posture could be wrecking havoc on your body and causing your aches and pains. Many people spend hours sitting at a desk hunched over and don’t realize the negative effects that it has on your health. But with this new knowledge, you are now aware of the health problems that bad posture and you can work with your healthcare provider to help you improve your posture.