While you may associate slouching with bad manners, there's more to it than how bad posture makes you look. The negative impact of poor posture over time extends well beyond your back.
Your back is made up of 33 bones (your spine) as well as muscles, discs, ligaments and cartilage. Keeping your back in proper alignment is crucial for the health of not just your back, but also the entire body. Proper posture means standing or sitting up straight with the spine in correct vertical alignment. The shoulders should be relaxed and back, the neck should be long and your chin parallel to the floor. Proper posture keeps the bones and tissues of the back, neck and shoulders from being strained and allows the weight of your upper body to be evenly balanced.
Without this balance, several unpleasant symptoms can occur.
The Negative Effects of Poor Posture
Aside from the esthetic effects -- you look taller, thinner and more authoritative when standing or sitting up straight, there are some very real negative effects of slouching. Use these six effects as motivation to work on your posture:
- Mental Impact -- Slouching when walking or sitting can make you feel more lethargic and actually depressed. You may also feel forgetful or like your brain is "foggy."
Digestive Disturbances -- When the abdomen is bent, the internal organs of the digestive system become compressed resulting in slow digestion of food and therefore, constipation.
Circulatory Effects -- Poor posture can inhibit the proper flow of oxygen-rich blood the body's vital organs. Oxygen is needed for the proper function of all the body's systems. If you're slouching and sitting, you put yourself at a greater risk of developing pain varicose or spider veins.
Respiratory Impact -- Not sitting or standing up straight inhibits the lungs from bringing in the maximum amount of air, which puts unnecessary strain on the heart.
Joint Deterioration -- Arthritis can result from prolonged poor posture as they the weight of the upper body isn't properly distributed when you're slouching, wearing on the connective tissues.
Muscle Pain -- Poor posture puts strain on the muscles of the shoulders and the back, resulting in cramping, knots and strains.
Natural Remedies for Back Pain
If you suffer from back pain, working on your posture is the first step. There are also some natural therapies and exercises you can try. Consider these:
- Yoga -- Stretches and elongate the muscles
White Willow Bark -- A natural alternative to aspirin
Pilates -- Strengthens the entire abdomen and back
California Poppy -- A floral extract that reduces pain and promotes deep sleep
Turmeric -- A root to reduce inflammation
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