Long term affects of bad posture, poor posture symptoms, and best solutions for it.
Are you reading this article at your desk at work, maybe on the train or the bus, or maybe just at home? What I want you to do is look up, and look around you. How many people do you notice with their heads down looking at their phones, someone is maybe hunched over or leaning forward at their computer screen, or are you slouched on your couch.
This unfortunately is what our world today looks like.
Technology has been humanity's greatest achievements. But it has also been one of our biggest downfalls when it comes to posture and health. It starts from a young age where kids are handed smartphones or tablets, teenagers carry heavy backpacks and adults sit hours on end at their desks. We grow up and work in an environment that was not ergonomically designed to suit our body. This poor design has been one of the leading causes of many health related issues and postural problems.
This article will give you a key understanding of what controls your posture, how poor posture can have detrimental effects on your health and what you can do to start changing your lifestyle along with your families.
Often we get questions such as “What is the correct way of sitting?” and “How do I know if I'm slouching?”. However, proper posture is relevant in many aspects in one’s day to day life; From mopping your house, to lifting a heavy box, sitting at the desk, and to how you workout. When talking about posture the key thing to understand is what is at the center of it all - our Spine.
The spine is the central column with the appendicular skeleton and muscles attaching onto it. It consists of 24 bones, called vertebrae and a cushioned shock absorbers sitting in between each vertebrae, called the spinal discs. The spine has various functions, such as movement, weight bearing, protection of the nervous system and posture. Poor posture has a direct impact on the spinal discs (weight bearing) and the nervous system function.
Poor Posture and Symptoms
To understand the impact of poor posture weight we will focus on two areas of the spine - the neck and lower back. An average head weighs anywhere between 4.5 - 5.0 kg. The neck or cervical spine consists of 7 bones, which carry the weight of the head. With every 15 degree tilt forward this weight and pressure on the discs increases significantly. For example at a 45 degree head angle the weight significantly increases by 17 kg or 340%. This is a very common underlying cause of neck pain and neck stiffness.
When looking at the lower back or lumbar spine the discs are designed to withstand 100 - 150 kg/pressure. This would occur when an individual moves from a standing to a supported seated position. For a seated position where the individual may be slouched or hunched forward in a chair the pressure would increase to 200 kg! The lumbar spine is unable to support this strain for a prolonged periods of time, which will eventually lead to low back pain and dysfunction.
Spinal Loading Throughout the Day
Let's take a scenario.
Daily commute for you is 20 minutes each way on the train to and fro from work, and work consists of 8 hours of sitting at the desk. If you were looking at your phone for 40 mins with your head angled down and sitting in a slouched position for 8 hours, on a daily basis you are adding 27 kg more weight through the neck and 200 kg/pressure through the lower back!
This increase in pressure on the discs leads to wear and tear also known as degeneration. Degeneration doesn’t happen overnight, prolonged poor posture over months and years leads to permanent changes within the spine. This in turn starts affecting nerves exiting the spine at various levels leading to symptoms. Symptoms such as back pain, neck pain, muscle aches and stiffness, weakness of muscles, numbness or tingling, shooting pain, headaches are just some of the examples.
In a recent study conducted by the Singapore General Hospital, on the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among office workers in Singapore, it was found that 73.4% of the 324 respondents reported experiencing pain in at least one of the body parts. The body parts with the highest report of pain were neck (46%), shoulder (42%) and low back (42%). There was a higher prevalence of MSD in females (78.8%) compared to males (63.9%).
How To Help Your Posture?
There are numerous products out there, from gadgets that detect you are slouching to shoulder straps you wear to stop your upper body from rounding. These are often helpful tools, but don't actually fix the problem.
What truly matters at the end of the day is making consistent effort to sit upright, changing the monitor height, looking at your phone at eye level or changing the way you lift objects off the ground. Being conscious and actively making small changes daily is what keeps you one step ahead of the game.
At Align Chiropractic, we are highly focused on posture, and posture correction techniques. When we assess posture there are a few key factors to note, how the spinal joints and your nervous system is functioning, how the curvatures of your spine have changed, and how the muscles around your spine are performing.
With poor posture comes stresses or imbalances within muscles, and our CORE-score Spinal technology allows us to see where the major stressors are being stored and how neural spinal stress is affecting your overall health. Every new patient is scanned, and re-scanned at specific review sessions to see how your body and nervous system is adapting. This is a great tool we use to show how health is more than just symptoms, and Chiropractic care can help improve our lives by improving your musculoskeletal system and your nervous system.
X-rays are another tool our Doctor’s use to assess curvatures and degeneration. These combined data gives our Doctor’s a clearer picture of how best they can help you and create a program best suited for your spine and health.
How we use our spine has drastically changed in the last 30 - 40 years, mostly for the worse. However our habits, work spaces and day to day activities remain similar. If you’re looking for a way to improve your posture and speed up recovery, get a spinal check-up from one of our Doctor’s today.
For more information, or a free consult to see if your case is right for us, email us at