Did you know that no matter how fit you are, you may still have poor posture? Our body’s alignment starts to suffer when we spend more and more time sitting at our desks. Additionally, we get stuck in harmful positions as we look at computers all day. Even walking around with our heads bent down to focus on our smartphones, affects our body’s alignment. So you may ask how to stop slouching.
While we may be great at working out regularly, not many of us have taken the time to ensure our desks and computers are set up correctly. Nor have we spent any time strengthening the right muscles for our backs and necks.
But why is it so important that our posture is good? Why do we need to ensure we’re able to sit and stand with straight backs? It’s not all about looking better and feeling more confident. There are some serious medical concerns too.
Problems Caused By Bad Posture
Health experts in the US have become concerned that poor posture is rife in those who spend their days at desks. This is leading to a vast array of health problems, from chronic headaches to mood disorders. The most concerning issues include:
1) Spinal Misalignment
The biggest concern around slouching is the long-term impact it can have on your spinal cord. This is the hub of your central nervous system and one of the most important skeletal structures in your body.
Over time, the muscles and tendons will weaken and become used to the slouched posture. This pulls the vertebrae in your spine permanently out of alignment. This can cause severe pain that is incredibly difficult to treat. You have to retrain the muscles in your back, and sometimes, you’ll require surgery to realign the vertebrae.
2) Nerve Irritation
Speaking of your nerves, poor posture can actually prevent your nerves from sending proper messages around your body and to and from your brain. The vertebrae and the discs in your spinal cord can compress when the spine rounds continuously. Therefore, nerves can get trapped in these compressions. This can be extremely painful and is a key reason to figure out how to stop slouching.
3) Digestion Issues
Sitting for long periods with your shoulders hunched and your spine rounded can put a lot of pressure on your abdomen and your digestive system. This can lead to issues around incontinence, poor digestion, acid reflux, and even pelvic floor problems. Poor posture can even cause constipation if you cannot sit on the toilet correctly.
4) Poor Mental And Emotional Wellbeing
A permanent slouch can heighten poor mental health and prevent you from dealing well with stress and anxiety. Hunching your shoulders and pulling your body in on itself is a signal that you are trying to push the rest of the world away. You’re sending this signal to your brain, telling it that you don’t want to or can’t cope with the world around you. When you make a conscious decision to stand tall or sit with a straight spine, you can actually improve your mental state. Similarly, you can improve your ability to tackle things that you might have found stressful before.
Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Posture
Having a slight slouch or rounded spine is a sign that the muscles in your back and your core aren’t working correctly. It takes a bit of work and can be quite tricky to correct. Especially if you’ve let the slouch go on for too long. However, it’s worth persevering with a good workout and routine to improve your posture. Consistency and changing your habits are the keys to better posture and how to stop slouching.
1) Set Your Desk Up Correctly
The first thing you have to do is ensure that you are sitting properly at your desk. If you spend several hours a day behind your computer, this is vital for proper posture. Your chair must be at the right height for the keyboard and mouse level, the monitors should be at eye level, and everything should be within easy reach.
2) Walk And Stand Consciously
It’s easy to stand up straight when you look at yourself in the mirror, but you need to keep that going throughout the day. Set reminders on your phone or on your smartwatch to stand tall or walk with the right posture. Your standing and walking posture should be relaxed in the shoulders but still upright.
3) Move Around When You Need To
Whatever your average day looks like, it’s important to have regular breaks for conscious movement. This is true for those who are on their feet all day and those who sit at a desk in an office. You want to move around and loosen up, getting away from any repetitive motions you might be doing in your job.
4) Stretch Regularly
Yoga and general stretching are vital parts of good posture. You want to counteract the positions you’ve been in all day, whether that’s sitting or standing, through conscious stretching. Child’s Pose is a great one to open up the back and relax the muscles.
5) Strengthen Your Abdominals
Core strength is another vital element of good posture. The reason sitting or standing upright hurts when you’re not used to doing it is because your muscles are weak. Strengthening the muscles that wrap around your spinal cord is a must if you want to ensure good posture.
You can do this through everyone’s favorite exercise, the plank. Pilates is a great workout regime to get into if you aren’t sure what other exercises you should be doing.
6) Practice The Shoulder Squeeze
Finally, the shoulder blade squeeze is an exercise you want to get into the habit of doing several times a day. It can be part of your workout, as well as something you do in your breaks when you move around. It’s actually a natural reaction to a sore back—simply straightening your spine and pushing your shoulders back as if you’re trying to get your shoulder blades to touch. The idea is to feel a slight stretch across the front of your chest and a squeeze in your back. Hold the position for a moment and then release.
In this article, we’ve discussed the dangers of poor posture, the impact it can have on your health, and how to stop slouching. We encourage you to put this knowledge to good use and turn your slouch into a straight back.