Are you a sloucher? How about someone you know? If you’ve been known to slouch, you’ve probably experienced a variety of symptoms associated with slouching, without even knowing it. You see, besides looking bad, poor posture causes many problems that most people aren’t even aware of; some of which can be quite serious.
How To Fix Poor Posture
Most people with poor posture are aware of the pain it can cause throughout your body. Prolonged slouching has been linked to severe neck pain, back pain and even migraine headaches. The intensity of the pain usually depends on the length of time a person exhibits poor posture and can range from mild pain, to intense never-ending pain that can be debilitating.
What many people don’t know is that poor posture can cause many other problems within your body besides just pain.
A recent study from San Francisco State University shows poor posture can cause depression and lower energy levels than those who stand upright. Slouching was shown to cause an average decrease in testosterone levels of 7.10% and a 15% increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that causes your stress level to increase, so having a higher cortisol level than normal means you’re constantly under undue stress as a result of slouching. Working to improve your posture can result in up to a 20% increase in your testosterone levels and a significant decrease in cortisol, resulting in more energy and less stress.
Think slouching while you stand is the only concern? Think again! Poor posture while sitting has similar effects on your body and can actually shorten your lifespan. After you reach the age of 25, every hour you spend slouching on the couch while watching TV can shorten your life expectancy by up to 21.8 minutes! On top of that, those who sit more actually increase their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 147%! You also double your risk for developing diabetes, even if you exercise.
Start Improving Your Bad Posture
Step 1 to improving your bad posture is awareness:
So what can you do to improve your posture? Well, depending on the length of time you’ve spent slouching, it’s going to take some dedication and hard work. The most important factor for improving your posture is awareness of your poor posture and the commitment to change it.
Step 2 to improving your bad posture is dedication:
Once you’ve dedicated yourself to improving your posture, you can start the physical process. The first step is standing up straight. This might sound simple, but breaking the bad habit of reverting to your relaxed position of slouching is harder than you think. So keeping it fresh in your mind and remembering to correct yourself when you slouch over is very important.
Steps 3 & 4 are stretching and exercising:
The next steps involve stretching and exercising. Stretching is important because as you slouch over, the muscles in your neck and back become very tense and overworked. They become accustom to being in that position and changing their muscle memory can be difficult. Regular stretching will help loosen your muscles and relieve the tension and soreness. Yoga is a great way to work on both stretching and stress relief. If you prefer not to take yoga classes, you can still use some of the positions and stretches that are common in yoga to get you on the right track.
Strength training can help improve your poor posture:
Along with stretching your muscles, you’ll want to work on strengthening some specific areas. Your core (abs) and back muscles are the most important muscles for maintaining proper posture. Without strengthening your core and back muscles, standing upright can make your muscles feel tired and overworked, causing you to revert to your old posture position. There are many at-home exercises you can do daily to strengthen your muscles, but the important thing is committing to your routine.
The longer you wait, the worse it will get:
Poor posture often worsens over time and won’t improve on its own. It takes dedication and commitment but is more than worth the effort. Not only will you feel better and look better, you could be avoiding serious life-altering complications down the line.
Thank you for reading and please let us know if you have any questions for us!
By Charlie Goldston, D.C.