Negative Effects Of Bad Posture
As children, a great deal of us was told to sit up straight and refrain from hunching over. What was the reason? The most common answer inquisitive young minds
were given was something along the lines of ‘Stop slouching or you’ll put a permanent curve in your back.’
There is some truth to the old wives’ tale of bad posture. Its effects may not be what our elders said, but they did get it right when we were told our health would be affected. Here’s a list of ways that bad posture can affect your health:
1. Exacerbating Arthritis
While most think posture is associated with just our backs, bad posture can affect multiple parts of our body. If you’re already suffering from a condition like arthritis in your knees, bad posture can actually make the pain worse.
According to Dr. Chris Wolf, a sports medicine and regenerative orthopedic specialist, said “Over time, that malalignment can worsen the effects of arthritis by putting pressure on one part of the joint and causing pain. The pain can decrease your overall function and quality of life.”
2. Poor Circulation
As we age it is important for us to maintain proper blood flow for the best possible health. Sitting hunched over your legal papers for hours on end? Are you slouched back in a chair as you attain Mastery Rank 13 in the latest game? Whether you are doing either, poor circulation is a result of bad posture.
“When you sit all day with poor posture, you’re preventing your body from getting the circulation it needs,” says Valentina Sendin, ergonomic project manager for Kaiser Permanente SoCal. “Taking the time throughout the day and making postural changes can not only help you have better posture, it can prevent you from serious health issues later in life.”
In addition to the poor circulation you’re subjecting yourself to, bad posture can have an effect on an individual’s energy levels. According to Dr. Stacey Pierce-Talsma, a professor at Touro University in Vallejo, California said, “When we have poor posture, we add tension and compression to structures that weren’t meant to beat that weight. These stresses and strains build up over time and wear down our bones, joints, and ligaments, even changing the way our muscles fire.”
Dr. Pierce-Talsma goes on to say, “Not only can poor posture add stress and strain, but it can also cause your body to become fatigued more quickly. This occurs because poor posture and gait require much more energy and work to maintain and compensate for. The more efficient we can be in our good posture, movement and gait, the more we can improve our energy efficiency.”
Energy levels are often associated with different moods, so it should come as no surprise that one’s mood may also be affected by poor posture. Published in March 2017 in a behavior therapy journal, one study suggested that “adopting an upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue and decrease self-focus,” at least in those with mild to moderate depression.
In one study of individuals with varying degrees of depression, 61 volunteers were asked to recite a speech while sitting with a specific posture. Those who were told to sit upright were more vocal in their speech.
A 2014 study that had 74 participants assigned a random posture to maintain had similar results to the 2017 study. Those who sat upright were most sure of themselves, displayed higher levels of alertness, and had a better overall mood.
In both studies, participants who slouched displayed a fear not common in those who sat upright.
5. Forward Head Posture
The condition has a pretty funky name but it is indeed a real condition that affects many. According to assistant professor Mark Gugliotti of New York Institute of Technology, this is a condition “that occurs when your head is aligned forward in relation to your spine.”
If you’ve ever taken notice of anyone who appears to be leaning forward despite their rigid posture, they are likely dealing with this condition.
“Ideally, a healthy head and neck relationship would align a person’s ear with his or her shoulder when viewing them from the side,” states Gugliotti. “As the head progressively lurches forward over time, the individual may succumb to a myriad of musculoskeletal dysfunctions impacting various systems of the body.”
Assistant profession Gugliotti also warns that such a condition may tighten and weaken various muscles, leading to neck pains and tension headaches caused by muscle strain.
Remember that maintaining a good posture can keep your energy high and your blood flowing, possibly resulting in better efficiency.