How Posture Affects Your Health

Woman leans over desk

How Posture Affects Your Health

Could your health issues be related to your posture? Poor posture not only causes back pain but may be the reason for several other health problems and conditions.

Why Good Posture Is So Important

Your bones support your weight and keep your body properly aligned and balanced. If you slouch or contort your body while you sleep or work, you're bound to experience problems with your joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or even organs eventually.

No one has perfect posture all the time. Although occasional bad posture probably won't cause health issues, you may be more likely to notice a difference in your health if poor posture is a frequent problem.

Shortness of Breath Could Be Related to Poor Posture

Do you struggle to take a deep breath? Although asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, lung cancer and other conditions can cause shortness of breath, poor posture could also be to blame.

Breathing issues are more common in people who hunch over when they work, watch TV, or use their laptops or smartphones. As you hunch over, you round your shoulders and hold your head forward. These positions tighten the chest muscles that help you breathe and make it harder for the diaphragm to expand fully. (The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle under your lungs. Every time you inhale and exhale, the diaphragm contracts and expands.)

Researchers who studied the effects of cellphone use on breathing discovered that study participants had reduced breathing function after just one hour of phone use. They noted that changes in breathing muscles and the rib cage in cellphone users could play a part in the breathing problems. Their work appeared in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.

Aches and Pain May Be Caused or Worsened by Posture Issues

Poor posture strains muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, causing pain, stiffness, loss of flexibility and reduced range of motion. If your body is imbalanced, one muscle may become stronger while the corresponding muscle on the other side of the body weakens.

Neck, hip, back or leg pain may be caused by bad posture, as can arthritis. When you have poor posture, you're much more likely to suffer a misalignment of the vertebrae in your spine. These misalignments can press on nerves or tighten muscles or tissues, increasing pain.

In recent years, more and more people have headed to the chiropractor's office for treatment of text neck. The condition gets its name from the way people bend their necks to look down at their smartphones and other digital devices. Text next causes pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, headaches and eye pain and increases wear and tear on the vertebrae in your neck.

Other Health Problems That Can Be Traced to Poor Posture

Poor posture can lead to several other health problems, including:

  • Frequent Headaches. Muscles in the head and neck tighten if you hold your head too far forward or in unusual positions. Tight muscles are a trigger for tension headaches and can make migraines feel worse.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ). The way you hold your head and jaw may put you at risk for developing TMJ, a painful condition that affects the hinged joints in your jaw.
  • Incontinence. Stress incontinence (leaking urine when coughing, laughing or sneezing) may also be caused by poor posture, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
  • Digestive Problems. Slouching or hunching over places pressure on your stomach and intestines and can cause acid reflux, constipation, gas and bloating.

Follow These Tips to Improve Your Posture

It's never to late to change the way you sit or stand. Improving your posture can be as simple as:

  • Reminding yourself not to slouch or hunch over when sitting or standing
  • Holding your cellphone at eye level
  • Performing stretches every day to make your muscles more flexible
  • Strengthening weak muscles, especially core muscles, with exercise
  • Choosing a mattress that's firm enough to support your spine without sagging
  • Selecting ergonomic office furniture that correctly supports your back and neck
  • Visiting the chiropractor for treatments that correct spinal misalignments, ease pain, balance your body, and loosen tight muscles and tissues.

Are you tired of living with posture-related health problems? Give us a call and we'll schedule a convenient appointment with the chiropractor.

Sources:

SPINE-Health: Text Next Symptoms and Diagnosis

Journal of Physical Therapy Science: Effect of Sitting Posture on Respiratory Function While Using a Smart Phone, 5/2016

Harvard Health Publishing: 3 Surprising Risks of Poor Posture, 2/15/2021

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