Experts say poor posture may cause more than just back pain
Thirty-one million Americans are having back pain at any given time.
In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed days at work and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Whether you're slouching over your laptop, looking down at your mobile phone, bending over to pick up a box, or sitting at a desk all day, these everyday activities can affect your posture in a negative way.
Other than back pain, poor posture can lead to accelerated joint degeneration and increased levels of stress.
It can also lead to an increase in developing heart disease.
A London study followed 4,000 men for 20 years and found the men who experienced posture deviation and height loss had a 64 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Experts also say poor posture can affect your breathing.
With poor posture, you have restricted, shallow breathing. When you stand up straight, your lungs have room to take in more air.
Poor posture can even affect your life expectancy.
A University of Queensland study found that for every hour someone is slumped over watching TV, their life is shortened by 22 minutes.
“Especially with the younger generation being raised where they’re spending more time sitting and folded, we need to do something about this,” said Steven Weiniger, a posture expert. “Your body is designed to move.”
Since our bodies are not designed to stay in one position for long periods of time, you can improve your posture by getting up and moving every 20 minutes.
You can also try regular exercise and specific posture-strengthening exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture.
GOOD POSTURE CREATES BETTER HEALTH
BACKGROUND: Posture is when the body is held upright against gravity while in various positions such as sitting or lying down. Good posture occurs when the body is trained to stand, walk, sit and lie in the position where the least amount strain is placed on the supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. Good posture includes maintaining bones and joints in the correct alignment so that the muscles can function properly. There are many benefits to having good posture; it helps decrease the wear and tear of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis. Furthermore, it serves as a preventative measure by prohibiting the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions that can later cause back pain. It can also prevent fatigue because muscles are working more efficiently so the body won’t have to produce more energy. Also, proper posture can also prevent strains, backache, and muscular pain and benefit people that suffer from back pain by decreasing the amount of pain an individual suffers. Furthermore, good posture contributes to a good appearance.
THE S-SHAPE: The spine has natural curves that form an S-shape. There are three curves: cervical curve, thoracic curve, and lumbar curve. The cervical and lumbar spines have a slight inward curve also known as a lordotic curve. The thoracic spine has a gentle outward curve or kyphotic curve. The spine's curves absorb shock, help maintain balance, and are also responsible for the range of motion performed by the spinal column. Two muscle groups called the flexors and extensors sustain the curves. The flexor muscles are in the front and include the abdominal muscles. The flexor muscles allow us to conduct a range of motion from flexing to bending forward and it also controls the arch in the lower back when we lift. The extensor muscles are in the back and allow us to stand straight and lift objects. When these muscles groups work together, they help stabilize the spine.
PROPER POSTURE: Good posture begins with one’s awareness about posture and practicing proper posture etiquette. Proper posture includes a balance of muscles on both sides of the spine, excellent muscle flexibility, and strong postural muscles. An individual can improve posture through practice by standing, sitting, and lying down correctly. Proper sitting procedures include shoulder placement over the hips, feet flat on the floor, with the low back fully supported, and the alignment of the chin over the chest. Also, the buttocks should touch the back of the chair, and all three normal back curves should be present while sitting. Proper bending and reaching technique for an item on the floor includes using the leg as a lever and maintaining a flat back. When sleeping, it is essential to sleep in a position that keeps the natural curve in the back. While lying on the back, place a pillow under the neck and knees for support. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a mattress that sags since that can cause back strain and be uncomfortable for your neck. Furthermore, the lumbar curve in the lower back bears most of the weight so proper alignment of this section can prevent injury to the vertebrae, discs, and other portions of the spine.