Causes of Poor Posture
With the advancement of technology, millions of Americans are suffering from poor posture each year. Unfortunately, bad posture may lead to many health complications including spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, respiratory problems and high blood pressure, among other things. By understanding the causes of bad posture and working to correct them, many of these posture-related conditions can be fixed.
Common Causes of Poor Posture
- Age. As we age, we usually begin to stoop lower and lower to the ground—oftentimes because our bodies become less flexible and agile. Naively, we avoid movement and exercise all-together because we think we’ll be in pain or discomfort as a result. Without muscle strength, our bodies cannot stand erect.
- Weight. Extra weight around the midsection can pull the pelvis forward taking the spine out of alignment and adding stress on the lower back. Likewise, women with larger breasts carry extra weight in their chest that tends to pull them forward.
- Fashion. Too tight of clothing, high heels and heavy bags can all cause back pain for one reason or another. Here’s a few things to be aware of when you get dressed in the morning:
- High Heels. High heels push the body’s center of mass forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment and placing additional strain on the back, knees, ankles and feet.
- Unsupportive Bra. Ill-fitting bras can affect the curve of the spine and lead to upper back problems. Research shows that most women wear the wrong size bra, leading to extensive hunching and straining as compensation for discomfort.
- Heavy Bags. Lugging a heavy backpack, bag or purse around by one strap can cause the disproportionate shift of weight to one side, leading to neck and muscle spasms, as well as low-back pain.
- Sitting On Your Wallet. Sitting on your wallet can cause your pelvis to twist, leading to misalignment of the spine and potential sciatic issues.
- Worn Out Shoes. Stilettos are hard on your back and flip flops don’t provide correct support but even “good” shoes that have worn out soles could change your posture and the way you walk, causing back pain.
- Pregnancy. As your belly grows during pregnancy, the shift in your center of gravity changes. As a result, you may gradually — even without noticing — begin to adjust your posture and the way you move. This may result in back pain or strain.
- Technology. We are bending further and further over our devices these days—in fact 58% of us are spending 2-4 hours per day staring down at our smartphones with our heads at a very sharp angle. The effect? A big crick in the neck, 60 pounds of pressure on the spine, and poor posture.
- Pain Cycle. When you experience pain in one part of your body, you tend to compensate for that pain by putting your body into a different position. The new position compromises another part of your body (and likely means you aren’t sitting or standing with good posture). And so the cycle begins.
- Poor Nutrition. Low nutrition can directly affect the bones and muscles in the musculoskeletal system which decreases the strength the body needs to hold itself in an upright position.
- Desk Job: The wrong chair, improper desk setup (including poor monitor height) and lack of breaks can all contribute to keeping our spines straight in the workplace. On average, people are sitting at their desk jobs with their neck and head forward and shoulders hunched for more than nine hours a day.
Habit: Like any bad habit, the habit of poor posture is difficult to break. Just like going to the gym for the first time can cause a lot of discomfort in untrained muscles, it can be uncomfortable to reverse poor posture by sitting up straight.