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8 Ways Poor Posture Damages Your Health

As humans, we often take good health for granted. Even worse, we fail to recognize the bad habits we have developed that can negatively impact our health in significant ways. With the ever increasing use of cell phones, laptops, tablets and video games, these present us with another cause for concern. Use of these devices can lead to chronic poor posture and those who fail to correct this pattern are experiencing a negative impact on their health as a result.

So what are some of the ways that your health can be affected by poor posture?

  1. Damage to the spine. When using a computer, tablet or smartphone, the tendency is to jut the head out forward, placing undue stress on the spine. If not corrected this can lead to degenerative disk disease and herniated disks in the spine. Lack of natural, healthy movement in the spine can also cause it to become inflexible, making it more challenging to move freely and increasing the likelihood of chronic back pain.
  2. Loss of lung capacity – sitting with improper posture has a direct affect on the capacity of the lungs. Poor posture can reduce lung capacity by as much as 30%, which in turn has an effect on the heart and vascular system. It also prevents your body from pulling in the amount of oxygen that it needs to run efficiently.
  3. Shoulder and upper back pain – this symptom is the most widespread symptom that people experience. Most people have experienced pain in this area after sitting with improper posture for a long period of time. This happens because the muscles of the shoulder and upper back are stressed to the extreme when posture is bad, and the resulting pain is the body’s way of trying to get your attention and to let you know that something is wrong. For most people with bad posture issues, this is the first official warning sign that they encounter.
  4. Increase in depression – A study was done with 110 university students in which they were asked to use a slouched position or skip for three minutes and record how they felt after. Those who used the poor posture reported that they felt sad, lonely and isolated while using that posture. When a person uses poor posture, the reduction of lung capacity can and will cause the body to receive less oxygen. Lowered oxygen levels have been linked to depression and anxiety.
  5. Fatigue – sitting improperly for long periods of time can cause fatigue. Slouching constricts blood vessels and prevents the lungs, heart and other organs from working efficiently. It also causes stress to the muscles and tendons, which require extra oxygen to function when stress and tension are high. Since the body is already dealing with a lowered oxygen supply due to reduced lung capacity, it simply doesn’t have the energy required to function at optimal levels. This causes fatigue that can range from mildly irritating to debilitating.
  6. Digestive problems – when you sit down and work all day, the digestive organs typically will become compressed. This prevents them for working the way they should. As a result, you can experience abdominal discomfort and constipation from a digestive system that is seriously slowed down.
  7. Headaches – When you slouch and sit with bad posture, not only can this create tension in the neck and shoulders, but that tension can continue up through the facial muscles and into the scalp. This excess tension can result in reoccurring tension headaches.
  8. Increase in stress – A recent Harvard study showed that people who sat with good posture showed a 25% decrease in Cortisol, the stress hormone. Shallow breathing caused by poor posture stresses the heart and lungs which in turn begin to create a stress response throughout the body, which cause Cortisol levels to rise.

Although bad posture can influence your health negatively, there is good news. Bad posture habits can be changed. As you practice correct posture, you can experience improvements in health symptoms that were a result of sitting improperly.

There are things that you can do to minimize and reverse the effects of poor posture.

  • If you work at a desk and hunch over a computer, allow yourself to stand up and stretch for a couple of minutes every half an hour.
  • Learn some specific posture exercises. The internet is filled with experts who show you specific stretches and exercises that can help you to reverse poor posture habits.
  • Learn Alexander Technique – this technique specifically helps you to identify how you are using your body incorrectly in daily life and helps to reverse bad posture so that your body has more freedom of movement. You can find a teacher here.
  • Take a yoga class. A regular yoga practice led by a qualified yoga instructor can help to strengthen your core and improve your posture. A good yoga instructor can help you to make sure each posture is correct.

Being mindful of your posture and making the necessary changes is vital to protecting your health. Being aware of your body and getting professional assistance when necessary can help you to be healthier, happier and avoid the complications of chronic bad posture completely.

Originally printed on the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition blog. Reprinted with permission.

The mission of Functional Diagnostic Nutrition is to educate as many people as possible about how to get well and stay well naturally, so that they may, in turn, educate others.  FDN founder Reed Davis is a Certified Nutritional Therapist and Founder of the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® (FDN) Certification Course. Reed is known as one of the most successful and experienced clinicians in the world today, having provided functional assessments to over 10,000 clients for hormone levels, bone density testing, adrenal function, digestive problems, immune system and detoxification issues as well as testing for pathogens, food sensitivities and many related health problems. FDN is an MFN business partner and offers MFN members $500 of their certification course.

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