Poor posture is common in people who have low muscle density in their core and people who work jobs that involve sitting down at a desk.
Aside from the aesthetic concerns it presents, poor posture can cause a series of unexpected health problems. Here, Dr. Bonaventure Ngu, our expert at Premier Spine Institute, explains what these problems are and how you can fix them.
Causes pain in the back, neck, and shoulders
Slouching and tilting your head forward for extended periods increases the load on your spinal discs. Over time, this habit causes wear and tear on your spinal discs and the muscles supporting your spine, leading to back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain.
In people who suffer from low bone density — whether due to deficiencies, health conditions, or aging — poor posture can even increase the risk for bone fractures.
Decreases the amount of oxygen you take in
Oxygen is responsible for oxidizing food and creating the energy that keeps your cells alive.
However, your oxygen levels can drop when you slouch and compress your abdomen. When your lungs can’t expand because your other organs don’t have enough room to move out of the way, your body takes in less oxygen.
Sitting with your head tilted forward when looking at a screen can also lead to shallow breathing. In this situation, the upper sides of your chest expands, but the lower sides contract, so your lungs can’t expand as they should.
Slows down digestion
Studies suggest a link between posture problems and acid reflux, which means fixing your posture may help eliminate heartburn.
When you slouch for prolonged periods, it compresses your stomach, which may cause some of your stomach acids to squeeze out.
Your stomach acid breaks down the foods you eat, so with less acid in your stomach, your digestion slows down. Also, some stomach acid may travel up your esophagus, causing chest pain and a sour taste in your mouth.
Makes exercising harder
If you slouch often, your muscles become stiff and less flexible. This may make it harder for you to perform certain exercises.
For some, stiff muscles can also get in the way of performing everyday movements such as reaching up or twisting.
Learn more about improving your posture
Lifestyle has a significant impact on your posture. Simple changes, such as being mindful of your slouching and strengthening your core muscles with exercises can make a big difference.
In some cases, however, bad posture may be caused by a spine problem that needs medical attention.
Poor posture can lead to conditions such as sciatica and herniated discs. They can also worsen your posture by causing back pain and stiffness, making it difficult for you to keep your back straight when walking or sitting at a desk. Dr. Ngu treats sciatica and herniated discs with pain medications, muscle relaxants, epidural injections, physical therapy, and massage to improve blood flow in the area.
If you have bad posture and are unsure of what to do next, contact us to schedule an appointment. Dr. Ngu examines your spine and the muscles that surround it, and he lets you know what can be done to prevent potential complications.