This isn’t the first time you’ve heard it, and it won’t be the last, either: You need to stand up straighter.
Most of us have been told to maintain good posture so many times (it’s almost nauseating), and at least for me, it has always seemed like just another way to be proper and look poised. But it turns out that your posture can impact way more than just your looks. In fact, there are some pretty surprising side effects of bad posture that you might not even know!
The way we carry ourselves can impact both our physical and our mental states. Take some time to explore all the consequences that bad posture can have on the body.
Pain in the upper body
OK, let’s start with the basics. If you’re experiencing ongoing pain in the shoulders and upper back, your posture might be to blame. Hunching over a computer all day or laying sprawled out on the couch can cause tension in the upper body that can feel super unpleasant.
Lack of oxygen
Spending long periods of time hunched over compresses the organs and decreases overall lung capacity. If you reduce the amount of oxygen your brain receives with each breath, it won’t be able to function optimally.
Damage to the organs
Sitting or standing in a slumped position puts excessive pressure on vital organs like the lungs, heart, liver, pancreas and gut. This makes it almost impossible for them to function at their best, and as time passes, this pressure can cause serious damage.
Osteoporosis and bone damage
Over extended periods of time, excessive slouching can lead to early onset of osteoporosis: a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. Extra pressure on the bones in the spine can also cause compression fractures. In fact, it’s estimated that around 25 percent of all postmenopausal women will have at least one compression fracture during their lifetime—not usually due to a fall, but most often from bad posture.
Poor posture is one of the leading causes of headaches. Hunching over and looking downward puts an extra strain on your neck muscles, which can cause severe discomfort in the head.
Slouching can negatively impact your ability to fall and stay asleep. When your muscular system is not aligned properly, the body struggles to fully relax and let you get some ZZZs.
The nerves in the neck and upper back control muscle function and sensations in the arms, wrists, and hands. When these nerves get pinched from bad posture, the result is the feelings of numbness, tingling and pain throughout the arm that come with carpal tunnel syndrome.
As I’ve mentioned, bad posture can alter the functioning of your internal organs, like the intestines. Bad posture slows the rate at which your intestines move broken-down food through the digestive tract, which can back you up.
If you have poor posture, you’re at a higher risk of developing or worsening circulation problems. This can lead to varicose veins, which women are particularly at risk for more than men.