From a young age, we’ve always been taught to sit up straight and to try not to hunch. With that said, very few of us actually listen to this lesson. Poor posture abound. Whether sitting at your desk at school, at work, watching television, or at the table eating dinner, the everyday person doesn’t typically think about their posture while seated. It may seem like stories about lousy posture are just an old wives’ tale, but the truth is, sitting up straight does have a positive effect on your spine health.
By practicing good posture and keeping your spine straight, you take the stress off of your joints, muscles, and bones. Conversely, poor posture can take a severe toll on your body and lead to pain and serious spine deformations over time.
Risks of Poor Posture
You might have tried to correct a bad habit of crouching or hunching over in the past but given up because it seemed impossible. Don’t. The risks associated with poor posture are reason enough for you to reconsider. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the leading cause of disability, and 80% of people will be affected in their lifetime.
Overworking your muscles could cause neck and back injuries, eventually leading to permanent spine issues. One significant risk to your spine is disc degeneration, where the discs between the vertebrae thin out and wear away the protective layers.
Subluxation is another risk from a long period of poor posture. This is when the spine misaligns, causing significant damage and pain around the spinal nerves. As the spine changes over time with poor posture, you’re more at risk for pinched nerves in other parts of the body.
Our spines are meant to absorb shock, and a deformation of the spine decreases that protection. A normal spine should form an “S” shape, but that can start to morph over time with poor posture. Even sitting in an unsupportive chair could eventually cause problems like increased pain and herniated discs.
Preventative Measures for a Healthy Spine
When you practice proper posture, your bones and joints are kept in alignment leading to a healthier spine and less back pain as you age. Now that you know the risks of spine misalignment, it’s time to learn how you can change your posture for the better.
For ergonomics, the correct sitting position is:
- Up straight as far back in the chair as possible with your shoulders back
- Body weight evenly distributed on both hips
- Knees bent at a right angle
- Feet flat on the ground
- Adjust position every 30 minutes
When sitting at a desk, the chair and desk should be at a height where your elbows rest with relaxed shoulders.
It’s best to avoid sitting positions that could negatively affect your spine’s health like:
- Crossing legs
- Leaning to one side
- Hunching the shoulders forward
- Tilting the head
A few tips to try out for spine alignment include sitting on a balance ball at your desk or while watching television. This will ensure that your core is tight and make it much harder to slouch. You could also buy tools to keep your spine straight like footrests, a standing desk, or lumbar back supports for your workstation.
Another important tip is to take frequent breaks at work to ensure you aren’t seated at your desk for too long. With the increase in work-from-home jobs and online classes, it may be tempting to work in bed, but unfortunately, this comfy spot doesn’t allow for proper back alignment, so it’s best to skip a bedside work routine.
If you start to feel back pain or are concerned about spinal health, we’re here for you; make an appointment to see us today! Our team of therapists is also available to answer any questions that you may have about proper sitting and stretching techniques.