Poor Posture Affects Your Health
Poor posture is a leading cause of back pain and neck pain. Additionally, it affects your mental wellbeing. Individuals who practice proper posture typically have better moods, more positive speech, and higher energy levels.
Poor Posture Affects Your Nervous System
Your nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that exit the spinal cord and go throughout the body, is protected by your spine. Your nervous system is responsible for controlling every function of your body — every organ, every muscle, and every cell. Poor posture puts your spine in a stressful position, changes the biomechanics of the spine, and alters the way your body functions. This interferes with your nervous system and puts pressure on the nerves which can cause pain. Only 10% of your nervous system is capable of feeling pain. This means that poor posture can cause problems for months or even years before you feel pain.
3 Causes of Poor Posture
- Psychological causes like poor self-esteem or depression can result in poor posture.
- Structural causes like scoliosis, arthritis, previous injuries, spinal subluxations (misalignments), and muscle imbalances can result in poor posture.
- Positional causes brought on by poor ergonomics and poor habits can result in poor posture. This is very common in individuals who sit or stand for hours, particularly in front of a computer. Other common causes include texting with your head down instead of up, playing video games, and heavy backpack loads.
7 Effects of Poor Posture
- Dizziness or Vertigo:
Poor posture with the head forward in front of the shoulders can create dysfunction in the upper neck (cervical spine) resulting in dizziness or vertigo.
Forward, or anterior, head carriage puts a lot of pressure on the spine and muscles. When your posture is proper, your ears should be lined up with your shoulders. Today it is very common to see people bending their heads forward for long periods while texting or working at their computer. The pressure this creates on the neck can cause headaches. 95% of all headaches originate from neck problems.
- Low-Back Pain and Sciatica:
Many of us spend hours sitting at a desk each day. Poor posture, while sitting with forward-tilting hips, can cause an increased curvature of the lower back (lumbar spine) and a protruding stomach. Poor posture in this case places stress on both the lower back and the hip joints. Dysfunction in the lower back (lumbar spine) often results in sciatica, low-back pain, numbness or tingling, and problems with the bladder, colon, and reproductive organs due to lumbar innervations.
- Mid-Back Pain and Digestive Problems:
Poor posture with rounded shoulders can result in mid-back pain. Rounded shoulders can also affect the ability of your lungs to fully expand. When your poor posture affects the alignment of your mid-back, pressure is placed on the nerves exiting the spine that control your digestive system. This can result in digestive problems such as acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.
- Neck Pain and Arm Pain:
Poor posture leads to subluxations (misalignments) in the cervical spine (neck). Subluxations can speed up degenerative processes like arthritis. It also placed pressure on the nerves (brachial plexus) in the cervical spine that travel down the arms into the hands. This can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the arms.
- Shoulder Pain:
Rounded shoulders are a sign of poor posture. Anterior head carriage with spinal misalignments will force the spine to move forwards and rotate the shoulder internally. This weakens the muscles of the upper- and mid-back that support your posture. Internal rotation of the shoulders leads to dysfunction and shoulder pain.
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint):
Anterior head carriage (forward head) increases pressure on the ligament and muscles of the jaw which can cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When the head is allowed to drop forward, the lower jaw also drops down and forward creating misalignment in the TMJ and leading to additional jaw problems.
How to Achieve Good Posture
For many people, sitting too long and the lack of movement are key challenges to overcome. Movement is necessary for maintaining a healthy spine. Standing up every 30 minutes not only gives you a break from sitting but allows you to refocus on proper posture when you sit back down.
Proper ergonomics also play a part in maintaining good posture. Make sure the height and angle of your chair are correct. Make a conscious effort to sit correctly. Set your computer monitor to the correct height and make sure there isn't pressure on your wrists while using your keyboard. A simple way to keep pressure off your wrists and help avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to keep your keyboard away from the edge of your desk and allow for 12" of space so your forearms take the pressure off your wrists. Proper posture will relieve pressure on your muscles.
The more inactive we are, the more our muscles become less flexible and tighter. Make it a priority to exercise and stretch. Strengthening your core is important for good posture. Stretching exercises including many yoga positions are excellent at improving your flexibility.
It is also important to the health of your spine to maintain good posture while standing. Your spine is designed to support your weight for a lifetime, and, with proper posture, carry your weight with ease. When your standing posture is poor, your head is down, and your shoulders rounded forward, you are placing pressure on the neck (cervical spine) and upper back (thoracic spine), which affects the alignment of your spine and weakens the muscles and ligaments. You can save yourself a lot of pain and keep your spine in proper alignment by standing up straight with your head up, ears over your shoulders, stomach in, and shoulders back. If you are standing correctly, your weight should be distributed evenly on both feet. When you are standing correctly with good posture, a straight line could be drawn from your ear lobes through your shoulders, your hips, your knees, directly to the middle of your ankles. Slouching takes everything out of alignment, so stand up straight.
Chiropractic Care Helps Maintain Good Posture
Chiropractic adjustments are important in maintaining good posture because they help to keep your spine in proper alignment. Years of poor posture will not only cause misalignment of the spine but back pain, neck pain, and physical problems like those previously mentioned in this article. When Dr. Steve Silverston performs an adjustment, he finds the subluxations (misalignments) in your spine and corrects them, putting your spine back into proper alignment. This releases pressure on your nervous system allowing it to function properly and eliminates the pain caused by pinched nerves and other interference with the nerves.
For help in correcting your posture, dealing with back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other problems, please call our office at (410) 461-3435 or use our convenient appointment form to set an appointment. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.