The consequences of poor posture are numerous, and while some of the dangers are widely understood, others are less obvious. Most people know that good posture creates a more confident and professional appearance, yet fail to understand the health implications of sitting and slouching.
Spinal Curvature, Pain, and Chronic Illness
Sitting for extended periods of time in unnatural positions leads to changes in the natural curvature of the spine that may, in turn, cause additional health issues. Poor posture can cause debilitating pain in the neck, shoulders, back, jaw, and head. This can lead to chronic illnesses affecting the bones, nerves, and joints. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, and disc degeneration.
Balance, Coordination, and Stress
The spine is the backbone of the skeleton, and, as such, improper posture interferes with balance, coordination, and the ability to absorb shock and stress. It is possible to avoid these problems by sitting up straight with the feet flat on the floor and the legs at a slight angle. Avoid looking up or too far down at electronics such as computers, which contributes to poor posture. In the video below Dr. Jason Fox gives tips on proper posture while sitting.
Cardiovascular Disease and Varicose Veins
Dr. Jason Fox asserts that cardiovascular health problems are associated with sitting for extended periods of time, and, further, that the risk is magnified by poor posture. This is the reason that “sitting and slouching” is likened to smoking and replacing it as a leading cause of heart disease. Varicose veins are one consequence of this practice, given they form due to a loss of elasticity commonly associated with a sedentary lifestyle. This can be countered by getting up to move around and stretch every 30-60 minutes if you work at a desk all day.
Bad posture can affect digestion, because the spine may compress the digestive organs to the extent that they are unable to absorb nutrients effectively. This results in slowed metabolism and leads to nutritional deficiencies that range from minor to severe. Over time, these metabolic problems lower immunity and vitality and contribute to the development of secondary conditions.
The Lungs and Respiratory Issues
Another problem that can arise is diminished lung capacity. Improper posture can affect the oxygenation of the blood and tissues, which interferes with the functioning of the heart, brain, and other vital organs. Ultimately, this leads to fatigue, lethargy, clouded thinking, dyspnea, and cardiovascular distress.
We aren’t saying that “if you have poor posture, all of these conditions will happen to you”. Rather we want to bring to your attention that poor posture affects far more than just back, neck and shoulder pain.
Take 5 minutes to watch the video above of Dr. Jason Fox discussing proper posture while standing and sitting. The first step to improving your posture is keeping it top of mind so that you catch yourself when slouching and can correct it.