Whether it’s from habitual slouching, constant hunching, looking down at screens for hours, or all the above, the effects of poor posture don’t stop at muscle spasms, shoulder tension, back aches, and neck pain; the persistent musculoskeletal imbalances that come with poor posture habits can lead to a few unexpected health issues, too.
Here, our expert team at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center explores eight surprising health problems that are more likely to develop when bad posture is the norm — and explains how postural rehabilitation can help you turn it all around.
No one sets out to have poor posture habits, but many people have them all the same. You may have first realized your postural alignment is off when you saw a photo of yourself that clearly showed your stooped shoulders — or you may have noticed your rounded neck when you caught your reflection as you passed by a shop window.
Here are some of the most common — and, to many people, surprising — ill health effects associated with chronic poor posture:
When hunched shoulders, a slouched stance, and a forward-head posture are the norm, your upper back and neck muscles reflexively tighten under the ongoing strain and incorrect load distribution of improper positioning. When this tension radiates up your neck to your head, it readily gives rise to dull, achy tension headaches.
Chronic slouching can compress your digestive organs and undermine your gastrointestinal (GI) health on multiple levels, leading to ongoing problems such as acid reflux, indigestion, reduced GI motility (food particle transit), constipation, and bloating.
A hunched body and tight muscles can constrict blood vessels and restrict the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your extremities, vital organs, and brain. Poor circulation makes your heart work harder, increasing the risk of problems like high blood pressure, cold hands and feet, chronic fluid retention, and worsening headache symptoms.
A slouching back and rounded spine are an easy recipe for eventual nerve compression. While you might associate nerve impingement with back or neck pain, symptoms are just as likely to extend into other body areas: Chronic poor posture is often linked to tingling, numbness, and radiating pain through the shoulders, arms, and hands but can also lead to the development of sciatica, or radiating nerve pain that travels through the hip and down into the legs.
Bad posture also compresses your chest cavity, limiting its ability to expand when inhaling, thereby decreasing your lungs’ ability to inflate properly. Over time, as shallow breathing becomes the norm, your lung capacity decreases, your oxygen intake is less efficient, and you experience more frequent incidents of breathlessness and fatigue.
Slouching can help set the stage for stress incontinence or spontaneous urinary leakage when you laugh, cough, or strain. How? Poor posture increases abdominal pressure, which places abnormal pressure on your bladder. At the same time, bad body positioning makes it harder for your pelvic floor muscles to counteract this pressure.
Poor posture can reduce flexibility and range of motion by making your muscles tighter and shorter. Even if it’s relatively mild, this abnormal all-over-body stiffness can readily undermine your balance and coordination, leaving you more vulnerable to falls and accidents.
Chronic slouching and hunched positioning are diagnostic features of depression. In the same way, poor posture can contribute to low self-esteem and reduced confidence or even the emergence of low mood, negative emotions, and diminished energy
Good posture supports improved health: It helps you breathe more easily, sustain better energy levels, reduce or prevent pain, and stay flexible; it also boosts your mood and confidence, protects your digestive and cardiovascular health, and preserves your mobility.
Ready to find out how postural rehabilitation can change your life? We’re here to help. Call or click online to schedule an appointment today with Dr. Lincoln German or Dr. Mikaela Foley at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia.