Posted by Dr. Brent Wells, D.C., July 17, 2019 (last updated on September 24, 2019)
If you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain, one of the factors that could be causing it is poor posture. When you’re feeling tired or focused intently on something, it can be easy to start slouching by accident. However, if you’re consistently sitting with bad posture, it’s going to put a lot of unnecessary stress on your spine and the muscles around it. Here are some of the consequences of poor posture - and the steps you can take to correct it.
The Health Consequences of Bad Posture
If you need a little motivation to improve the way you sit and stand throughout the day, just look at the potential negative health consequences of having bad posture. The biggest health consequence is a distortion of the natural curves in your spine. Your spine isn’t meant to be straight - you have three natural curves there to support the rest of your body. When you slouch, your spine will become misaligned, creating tension in the spinal joints. As a result, you’ll likely experience pain in your lower back as well as in your shoulders. Since this also creates muscle imbalances, you also might end up with pain in other parts of your body.
In addition to chronic pain, bad posture can also cause internal issues, affecting both your digestive system and your cardiovascular system. This is because you are compressing your internal organs in a way that is very unnatural. This can make it difficult for your body to digest efficiently, leading to gas and general discomfort. It also slows down your circulation, making it much more difficult for your body to heal itself when it’s injured. Poor posture can also affect the way you appear to other people. When you stand up straight, you look confident and poised, but slouching can make you look shy.
How to Correct Bad Posture
Luckily, there are many strategies you can use to correct bad posture. This ranges from big changes, like switching up your exercise regimen, to small ones, like adding extra support to your chairs. Here are some ways you can correct bad posture.
Strengthen your back and core
One of the reasons people develop bad posture in the first place is because the muscles in their torso aren’t strong. When you strengthen the muscles in this part of your body, it becomes much easier to hold your back up nice and straight. There are many ways you can go about doing this. Lifting small weights can be very helpful for building up strength, but make sure to stretch out your muscles after lifting to prevent them from getting tense. Yoga and Pilates exercises are both very helpful for building strength and control in this area. Pilates focuses more on toning the muscles, while yoga is excellent for lengthening the muscles and developing mobility. If you don’t have time to go to a class, you can look up exercises online to try.
See a chiropractor regularly
Another easy way to reduce tension in your back is by seeing a chiropractor. A chiropractor uses adjustments to move your spine back into its natural position if it has moved out of place. These adjustments will not only help relieve chronic pain, but will make it much easier for you to maintain good posture in the future. Chiropractors take a very holistic approach to treatment, so they can also help you eliminate chronic pain and soreness in your entire body, not just your back. They’ll give you stretches and exercises to do to help you with your posture, and they can even help you assess your diet, workout, sleep, and other factors that could be affecting your health so you can make positive changes.
Buy a supportive desk chair and mattress
If you spend a lot of time sitting down at work, the chair that you are using can have a big effect on your posture. If your chair is uncomfortable and doesn’t support the back’s natural curves, you are going to be much more likely to slouch as a result. Look for a desk chair with a high back that is contoured to fit the curves of your spine instead of forcing your body into an unnaturally straight position. It should also be made with a supportive, cushy material to keep your muscles nice and comfortable.
Additionally, you should make sure that you are using a supportive mattress. A poor quality mattress can lead to back pain and spinal imbalances that can have a negative effect on your posture during your waking hours. Ideally, your mattress should be made of a supportive memory foam that supports the contours of your body without creating a sinking feeling. If you don’t want to invest in an entirely new mattress, you can also shop for an affordable mattress topper to add some more support to your bed.
Be aware of your alignment
A big part of correcting your posture is just increasing your awareness of it as you go about your day. This can be difficult to get used to if it’s not something you’ve done in the past, but with some practice, it will become second nature. There are a variety of things you can do to remind yourself to check in on your posture. You can try wearing a brightly colored bracelet or ring that you associate with good posture, because every time you see it, it can be a reminder to sit up straight. You can also try enlisting a friend or family member to remind you to stand up straight if they see you slouching.
Think about keeping your shoulders on top of your hips, and your feet and knees all in a straight line if you are standing. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your knees slightly bent. This can take some practice, but over time, you can train your body to naturally assume this position. If you’re still struggling to maintain good posture, talk to a chiropractor or a doctor for more assistance.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractor Anchorage in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.