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Health Effects of Poor Posture & How to Improve

Posted Jun 16th, 2023

Health Effects of Poor Posture & How to Improve

Do you suffer from pain or stiffness in your back, neck or shoulders? Bad posture may be partly to blame. Today, our Stittsville physiotherapists list the health impacts of poor posture and share how we can help improve the position of your body. 

Posture & Your Health

If you've ever carried a backpack that was too heavy, sat hunched at your desk for hours on end or procrastinated on ensuring you get enough exercise into your schedule, you're among good company and may now be experiencing the effects of bad posture such as pain and stiffness in your back, neck and shoulders. 

In addition to setting you up for back, neck and shoulder pain along with damage to your joints, bad posture can affect your general health and well-being. While you may be able to dismiss or ignore the discomfort in the short-term, those aches and pains are a signal your body is sending. 

In the long-term, poor posture and sitting all day (as most of us do at work) can impact everything from joint health to our immune system. 

When you have bad posture, the muscles in your back and neck get overworked. Your immune system spends effort healing these muscles, and inflammation is triggered. This can gradually lead to arthritis in nearby joints. 

In this article, we'll discuss how poor posture can negatively impact other aspects of your physical health, and how we can help improve your posture with physiotherapy so you can start to feel better. 

What is posture? 

You might read many differing definitions of posture, but it's essentially the position in which you hold your body upright while standing, sitting or lying down. Your spine and muscles work together to correctly align your body. 

With good posture, we can sit, stand, lie and move in positions to place the least possible strain on supporting muscles and ligaments. Good posture also allows us to function and move easily, and hopefully avoid any aches or pains. 

There are two types of posture:

1. Static Posture - The body and its segments are aligned and maintained in specific positions when standing, sitting, kneeling or lying. 

2. Dynamic Posture - The body or its segments are moving - walking, lifting, throwing, running and jumping. 

What causes bad posture? 

Many factors can contribute to poor posture, including: 

  • Repetitive motions 
  • Weak muscles
  • Carrying extra body weight 
  • Injuries 
  • Fatigue
  • Poor biomechanics
  • Genetic conditions
  • Looking down at your digital device (phone or tablet) for long periods of time without a break 
  • Carrying heavy purses or bags (especially over one shoulder) 
  • Poor ergonomics or work stations that are not set up correctly 

What are the negative health effects of poor posture?

Having bad posture can be harmful to other aspects of your physical health. When poor alignment causes muscles and ligaments to become imbalanced, this increases stress on the joints and can lead to various issues such as: 

  • Muscle weakness and atrophy 
  • Decreased flexibility 
  • Increased pressure on the spine, leaving it more vulnerable to injury and degeneration 
  • Chronic neck, back and shoulder pain 
  • Back, hip, knee and foot injuries 
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome 
  • Sciatica
  • Impingement and nerve compression 

Bad posture causes imbalances in the body, which our body then fights to correct. 

What are the benefits of good posture?

Did you know how you sit and stand can directly impact your health in a variety of ways? While this may seem improbably, good posture can help: 

  • Prevent Injuries - When you improve your strength and flexibility, this makes it easier to practice proper lifting techniques, which decreases your risk of injury. 
  • Improve Your Range of Motion - Correct posture leads to more balanced musculature, allowing for a fuller range of motion. 
  • Lift Your Mood - When you stand and sit straight and tall, you may feel more self-confident, which can promote better mental health. 
  • Feel Less Tired - Muscular imbalances in the body are reduced when you have proper posture, allowing the body to move more efficiently and expend less energy doing so. 
  • Strengthen Your Core & Back Muscles - Engaging your core, back and chest muscles gives these areas a good workout. When these muscles are stronger, stability and balance also improve. 
  • Experience Fewer Headaches - You may notice that shoulder tension increases with bad posture, which can lead to headaches. However, correcting your posture can reduce them. 
  • Support Better Breathing - When you sit or stand correctly, your diaphragm is under less pressure, making it easier to take deep breaths. 

How can I improve my posture?

The first step to correcting your posture is to become aware of the postures you're engaging in that are triggering unnecessary strain, learn new postures, practice them, then repeat. 

1. Assess Your Posture 

Have your posture assessed by one of our Nepean physiotherapists, who will be able to spot any incorrect postures and explain how you can improve. To achieve good posture, you'll need to have: 

Normal Range of Motion in Your Joints 

To achieve good posture and alignment, you'll need to expose your stiff joints to greater movement by practicing simple exercises at home. 

Normal Muscle Length 

Are your muscles too tight? If so, you won't be able to attain normal posture. You may need to practice exercises to improve this. 

Muscle Endurance 

Poor muscle endurance is a major contributor to habitual poor posture. With better muscle endurance, you'll be able to use your muscles for hours on end. 

Good Spatial Awareness 

Understand where your body (and body parts) are in space. At our physiotherapy center  can offer verbal and visual feedback to help you gain spacial awareness and help you learn a variety of postures. 

Normal Nerve Extensibility 

Having long enough neural tissues can support normal posture. 

2. Develop a Plan 

Once your physiotherapist has completed an assessment and you understand where your posture can be improved, you'll create a physicalplan together that incorporates hands-on treatment, posture correction exercises and, potentially, helpful items to use at home to help you correct your posture and strengthen your core. 

You'll learn how you can stay active safely while focusing on awareness of your body. For example, your physiotherapist may recommend yoga, tai chi or other activities. 

Physiotherapy at Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre 

Are you experiencing pain or discomfort due to bad posture? Lower back pain and other symptoms can be addressed with physiotherapy, education and injury prevention methods. We can conduct a thorough assessment to determine the cause of your pain and dysfunction, then develop an individualized treatment plan to assist you in achieving your goals. 

Our physiotherapists can help you improve your mobility and quality of life by reducing and managing pain, increasing range of motion and strength, optimizing balance and coordination, developing personalized, goal-oriented therapeutic exercise programs, and more. 

Are you wondering how a sports dietitian can help make sure your nutrition plan supports your goals? Our sports dietitian in Nepean can create a custom plan coupled with ongoing support.

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Have a question? Our team is here to help.

(613) 831-4054