It’s no secret that American’s have a poor posture problem. A simple Google search will produce plenty of articles on this topic.
However, what many people may not know is that poor posture can lead to all sorts of long-term issues, including chronic pain.
If you think about it, this makes sense. A typical day for an office worker often involves hunching over a computer for 8-12 hours. Then at home, more slouching may take place while couch-surfing for a television program or movie to watch.
Not sitting correctly can be detrimental to your lungs and abdominal organs. And when your lungs are compressed, it makes it difficult to breathe.
When your body is slouched while sitting, this ends up creating a short breathing pattern using your upper chest. When this happens, it makes it difficult to take a deep breath, which encourages you to keep making your posture get worse over time.
Also, when your abdominal organs are compressed with a poor slouched posture, your internal organs like your stomach and liver get very tight, and they don’t move very well. And when they don’t move, these internal organs don’t communicate freely and become restricted, and that is when pain can start.
Your body should be taking normal deep diaphragmatic breaths, which can only occur when you have proper posture while sitting.
Below is a good image from a Harvard Health article showing how to properly sit:
While back and neck conditions are at the top of the list of long-term chronic pain disorders as a result of poor posture, other serious issues can develop as well. A recent article in U.S. News and World Report shares several of these, which we will highlight below:
Poor posture can lead to a malalignment of your spine or knees creating an increase in stress in these areas of your body. The exacerbating arthritis pain, as a result, can decrease your overall function and quality of life.
Sitting in a chair with poor posture can lead to circulation issues. This can lead to varicose veins, which women are at high risk for.
You may experience fatigue more quickly as a result of poor posture. According to Dr. Stacey Pierce-Talsma, an associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro University in Vallejo, California, “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.”
Mood, forward head posture, jaw pain, headaches, and sexual function were other issues identified in the article that can develop as a result of poor posture.
How to Improve Poor Posture
Standing and sitting properly is key. The American Chiropractic Association shares good tips on how to do both, along with proper lying positions.
Certain yoga poses can also be performed to help improve your overall posture along with your breathing. Here is a link to an excellent article on Healthline that shares seven morning stretches that can be performed along with instructions on how to perform each one and the body parts these exercises can have a positive impact on.
If you struggle with having poor posture and are experiencing pain, then seek the help of a professionally licensed physical therapist in your area.
If you reside in the Washington, DC metro area then certainly reach out to me as I do work with patients who struggle with poor posture. I can assist you in improving not only your posture but also in helping to relieve chronic pain you may be experiencing through my manual therapy for health and wellness. I’ll even recommend exercises to strengthen your core postural muscle’s and help you choose proper postures during your everyday activities to help reduce future risk of injury.
Stop slouching! It’s time to put a halt to poor posture for good. Use these tips to help you improve your posture so that you can live and be healthier for many more years to come.
In good health,
Marge Kalfon, MSPT, is the founder of PT by Marge and is a licensed physical therapist in Virginia. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 1996. Since then, she has practiced in a wide variety of settings ranging from large hospitals to small private practices. She has extensive training and experience with a wide variety of manual therapy techniques as well as orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation.