10 Harmful ways your health can be affected by your Poor Posture
Remember how your mom admonished you to sit or stand up straight? She was right. Poor posture can have many negative effects on your health. Having poor posture can put more stress on certain muscles and joints, forcing them to be overworked and causing them to fatigue. Many patients with chronic pain can be helped by addressing their poor posture. Your posture reflects your outlook on the world. Here are 10 ways poor posture can affect your health:
1. Exacerbating arthritis
Poor posture can lead to malalignment of your spine or knees, which can increase stress on your knees. This can be particularly detrimental if you suffer from arthritis of the knees. 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
If you sit in a chair for hours every day with poor posture, you’re at risk of developing or worsening circulation issues. When you sit all day with poor posture, you’re preventing your body from getting the necessary circulation it needs. This can lead to varicose veins, which women are particularly at risk for. Taking the time to move 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.
Poor posture can negatively affect your energy level. When we have poor posture, we add tension and compression to structures that weren’t meant to bear 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. Not only can poor posture add stress and strain, it can also cause you 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.
Research suggests poor posture can negatively affect your mood. For example, a study published in March 2017 in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that “adopting an upright posture may increase positive affect, reduce fatigue and decrease self-focus” in people with mild to moderate depression. In the study, 61 volunteers who had mild to moderate depression were asked to recite a speech, a task known to cause stress. Some of the participants sat with their usual posture, while others sat upright. The people who sat upright spoke more than the other group and used fewer first-person singular personal pronouns, the study found. A 2014 study published in Health Psychology produced similar results. In that research, 74 people were randomly assigned to either sit slumped or upright and were asked to complete a reading task and recite a speech. People who sat upright reported a higher self-esteem, a higher level of alertness, a better mood and less fear than those who slouched.
5. Forward head posture
Forward head posture is a common condition that occurs when your head is aligned forward in relation to your spine. Ideally, a healthy head and neck relationship would align a person’s ear with his or her shoulder when viewing them from the side. As the head progressively lurches forward over time, the individual may succumb to a myriad of musculoskeletal dysfunctions impacting various systems of the body. This condition can tighten some muscles and weaken others, leading to neck pain caused by muscle strain and tension headaches.
6. Jaw pain
Poor posture can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome, which is also known as TMJ. As poor posture misaligns the spine, it can also cause an improper bite pattern, which affects your temporomandibular joints – the two joints that connect your jawbone to the temporal bones of your skull. These joints function similarly to a hinge, allowing you to open and close your mouth. Poor posture in the neck and shoulders, or forward head posture, can cause these delicately balanced joints to become misaligned. When the jaw joints are misaligned, they’re more likely to pop, lock, cramp or even go into spasms, resulting in jaw pain and difficulty chewing.
7. Breathing efficacy
To breathe properly, your diaphragm needs to have enough space in the thoracic cavity to properly release and contract with each breath. Your ability to breathe optimally is boosted when your body is lengthened and in proper alignment. Poor posture and spine misalignment can compromise your ability to breathe well. Breath quality is important because the body needs to have oxygen in order to restore and rejuvenate the cells. Full, deep breaths help promote a healthy brain, heart and other vital organs.
Bad posture can contribute to tight neck muscles and compromise the natural curvature of your spine, which can lead to headaches. Tight neck muscles can send pain radiating up to the head.
9. Shoulder and back pain
Poor posture can contribute to shoulder pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can lead to rotator cuff tendons pressing on the coracoacromial arch of your shoulder, which causes pain when you move or lie on the side of the affected shoulder. Bad posture can also lead to the shortening and contraction of the lumbar muscles, which can contribute to unhealthy tightness and lower back pain. Back pain can also be caused by “military posture,” in which someone tries to stand or sit up ramrod straight, lifting his or her chest and causing the lower back muscles to work too hard, says Isa Herrera, a physical therapist in New York City who’s written five books about women’s health. “I call this the ‘trying real hard to look straight’ posture,” she says. “Typically this person would suffer from aching and unrelenting pain and burning in the upper back muscles. It also contributes to lower back pain, since pushing out your chest will cause your lower back to overextend.”
10. Sexual function
Having poor posture while sitting can adversely affect your sexual function. “Sacral sitting, or what experts’ calls rounded lower back sitting or slopping sitting, can be even worse than other postures. Sacral sitting can have profound effects on men’s and women’s sexual function because this posture shortens and tightens the pelvic floor muscles, which are our primary sexual muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are tight and weak, they cannot exert their power and strength, and the end result can be weak or non-existent orgasms. Weak pelvic floor muscles can affect the sexual function of men and women in different ways. For example, men with a shortened and tightened pelvic floor caused by poor sitting posture may have less stamina and could experience weak ejaculations. Women with pelvic floor issues may experience reduced sexual arousal and infrequent orgasms, research has suggested.