As humans, we often take good health for granted. Even worse, we fail to recognize the bad habits we have developed that can negatively impact our health in significant ways. With the increasing use of cell phones, laptops, tablets and video games, these present us with another cause for concern. Use of these devices can lead to chronic poor posture. And those who fail to correct this pattern often experience a negative impact on their health as a result. It may be impacting the health of your clients as well.
What are some of the ways that health can be affected by poor posture?
Damage to the spine
When using a computer, tablet or smartphone, people tend to jut their head forward. This places undue stress on the spine. If not corrected, this position leads to degenerative disk disease and herniated disks in the spine. Lack of natural, healthy movement in the spine can also cause it to become inflexible. This makes it more challenging to move freely increasing the likelihood of chronic back pain. This can prevent your clients from moving their body regularly and therefore getting too little exercise.
Loss of lung capacity
Sitting with improper posture has a direct effect on the capacity of the lungs. Poor posture can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30%. This in turn influences the heart and vascular system. It also prevents your body from pulling in the amount of oxygen that it needs to run efficiently.
Shoulder and upper back pain
Most people have experienced pain in this area after sitting with improper posture for a long period of time. With bad posture, the muscles of the shoulder and upper back experience constant stress. The body sends a pain signal that communicates that a problem is occurring and needs attention and correction. For most people with bad posture issues, this is the first official warning sign that they encounter.
Increase in depression
A study was done with 110 university students in which they were asked to use a slouched position or skip for three minutes and record how they felt after. Those who used the poor posture reported that they felt sad, lonely and isolated while using that posture. When a person uses poor posture, the reduction of lung capacity can and will cause the body to receive less oxygen. Lowered oxygen levels have been linked to both depression and anxiety.
Sitting improperly for long periods of time causes fatigue. Slouching constricts blood vessels and prevents the lungs, heart and other organs from working efficiently. It causes stress to the muscles and tendons, which then require extra oxygen to function in order to counteract the high levels of stress and tension. Since the body is already dealing with a lowered oxygen supply due to reduced lung capacity, it simply won’t have the energy required to function at optimal levels. This causes fatigue that can range from mildly irritating to debilitating.
When sitting down and working all day each week, the digestive organs will become compressed. This prevents them from working the way they should. This slows down the digestive process and can result in abdominal discomfort and constipation.
Slouching and sitting with bad posture does more than just create tension in the neck and shoulders. That tension can continue up through the facial muscles and into the scalp. This excess tension can result in recurring tension headaches.
Increase in stress
A recent Harvard study showed that people who sit with good posture experienced a 25% decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone. Shallow breathing caused by poor posture stresses the heart and lungs. That in turn creates a stress response throughout the body, causing cortisol levels to rise.
Although bad posture can influence health negatively, there is good news. Bad posture habits can be changed. As your clients learn correct posture, they can experience improvements in health symptoms that were a result of sitting improperly.
Things that your clients can do to minimize and reverse the effects of poor posture:
- If they work at a desk and hunch over a computer, have them stand up and stretch for a couple of minutes every half an hour.
- Share some specific posture exercises. You can find exercises that can help posture from experts online. A quick Google or YouTube search will help you find exercises that can help your clients reverse poor posture habits.
- Encourage your clients to take a yoga class. Regular yoga practice led by a qualified yoga instructor can help to strengthen the core and improve posture. An expert yoga instructor will also make sure that your clients are using proper posture during class. This can translate to improved posture overall.
Being mindful of posture and making the necessary changes will help your clients protect their health. Being aware of their bodies and getting professional assistance when necessary can help them correct bad posture habits. This will help them be healthier, happier and avoid the pain and health complications of bad posture.