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Health Effects of Poor Posture & How to Improve

Health Effects of Poor Posture & How to Improve

If you suffer from pain or stiffness in your neck, back or shoulders, bad posture may be at least one factor causing those aches. In this post, our Nepean physiotherapists discuss the health effects of poor posture and share how we can help you improve your body's positioning.

Posture & Your Health

Most of us had moms who nagged us to sit up straight, get more exercise and not carry such a heavy backpack. If you had bad posture when you were young, you are probably feeling the effects of back, neck and shoulder pain and stiffness. 

Along with setting you up for neck, back and shoulder pain as well as joint damage, bad posture can impact your overall health. While you may be able to ignore or dismiss the discomfort for a while, aches and pains are your body's way of getting your attention. Poor posture long-term and sitting all day (as most of us do at work) can affect everything from our immune system to joint health. 

When you have bad posture, the muscles in your neck and back become overworked. Your immune system expends effort to heal those muscles, which triggers inflammation that may gradually lead to arthritis in nearby joints. In this post, we'll talk about how poor posture can negatively affect 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?

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright while sitting, standing or lying down. It refers to how your spine curves and how your muscles engage when you are sitting or standing. Your spine and muscles work together so your body is correctly aligned. 

When we have good posture, our we sit, move, stand and lie in positions to place the least strain possible on supporting muscles and ligaments. With good posture, we can easily move and function, 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. Examples include sitting, standing, lying and kneeling. 

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

What causes bad posture?

There are several factors that contribute to poor posture, including: 

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

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 our physiotherapist can help you correct poor posture? Let's discuss how we can assist.

We can help develop a physical therapy plan to help you stay healthy and heal from pain.

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Welcome to the Nepean Sports Medicine & Physiotherapy Centre blog, where we provide lots of helpful tips, news, information and advice about physiotherapy and massage treatments, as well as general health and wellness, in Nepean and Ottawa.

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