We see cases of bad posture frequently here at the clinic, it’s something that so many people suffer from due to the way we live our daily lives nowadays. Most of us spend a great deal of time sitting during the day, on smartphones or sitting semi-recumbent in front of the TV; all of which can be terrible for your posture if you’re not consciously making an effort to maintain it. Fixing good posture can be very simple with a little persistence, so today we’re going to explain why we can lose good posture, why you can sometimes get away with having bad posture and what you can do to rectify the problem.

What Does Good Posture Look Like?

You might be somewhat aware of how good your posture is, but if not there’s a very simple stance you can take against a wall that might give you a better indication. Essentially, if we can draw an imaginary straight line, it would follow the ears, shoulders, hips and ankles. If you stand against a wall, you might have no trouble with your head touching the wall, but others may find they have to really straighten themselves out of their natural position for their head to touch the wall. Good posture is a visually good way of keeping your body in check and ensuring your body is able to effectively shock absorb. You might not imagine that you’d be doing much during the day that requires shock absorption, but this can be anything from walking, running, jumping or lifting etc. Good posture will protect your spine and nervous system and also allows you to be able to take deeper breaths to fill the lungs with oxygen.

What Complications Does Bad Posture Carry?

We’ve seen many articles that debunk posture having an effect on back pain, and while it’s true that you can certainly get away with having bad posture for a time, it doesn’t mean that it won’t become a problem eventually. After all, if bad posture caused you pain right off the bat, we’d all be sitting with good posture! The most common cause of back pain that we see has been as a result of repetitive actions over time causing damage to the spine, rather than a one-off event – a little like erosion on cliffs. Bad posture can stretch the ligaments and muscles in your body, compressing the front of the spine, squashing your discs and can lead to your alignment shifting out of a normal range. Initially, this behaviour can cause you to get the odd headache here and there, or suffer with tight shoulders that feel like they need a good stretch out. Under the surface, this poor alignment that ensues can cause degenerative changes in pockets of the spine where it’s under duress. Eventually this can cause problems to occur as well. It’s usually at this point where someone starts to get pain that lingers for a few days, weeks or months. Before that point, they may have had the occasional pain that went away after a few days and then perhaps came back a few weeks or months down the line. In the same way good posture allows us to take a deep breath, rounded shoulders can cause us to not be able to take in a deep breath, and may even cause you chest pain.

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The Habits That Frequently Cause Bad Posture

As a species, we now spend an awful lot of time sitting down, which is genuinely not what our bodies have been made for. You might sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning, sit on your commute, sit at your desk all day, sit on the commute home, sit to have your dinner, followed by a relaxing sit on the sofa in the evening. If you total up just how much time you spend doing that in a day, the time you spend on your feet will probably be very small. You might already be aware of this if you wear a fitness watch and you struggle to get your steps in each day. The problem comes with sitting because we round the lower back, which can put a great deal of pressure through this area. If you then slouch while you’re sitting, you might perhaps round your shoulders forward or crank the neck forwards while at your desk, these behaviours are not helpful for your upper back and neck posture. While the thoracic spine already has a forward bend through it naturally, accentuating this can again stretch the muscles out and stress your spine and muscles. We frequently see cases where the neck has completely straightened out and lost its curve, and with this type of problem you’ll see about a 75% stretch on the ligaments. As your ligaments are holding your alignment in place, it’s little wonder why the change has happened given the stretch. 

How To Resolve Bad Posture

You might have picked up some habits you might be guilty of in this article so far, so you might know whereabouts you’re going wrong. Taking more time to stand and walk around during the day will be helpful if you spend a lot of time sitting. There’s no reason why you can’t get up and walk around every 20 minutes, or when taking phone calls to get your movement in. If you spend a lot of time on your phone, invest a couple of pounds into purchasing a pop socket. These sockets affix to the back of your phone and make it a lot easier to be able to hold your neck in front of your face, rather than down in your lap. If you tend to slouch on the sofa or at your desk, try to make regular check-ins with yourself to remind yourself to sit up straight. This may cause some aching in the beginning as your body essentially has to strengthen the muscles again, however with some persistence this will get easier. We frequently talk about the towel stretch and the cervical extensions exercises as a way to help things along, especially if you are struggling with neck pain. The cervical extensions exercise requires a stronger exercise band, and you simply tuck it into the back of your neck and hold the ends in each hand. You’ll then want to lean your head back and pull gently on the band as you do so. . You’ll then follow up with the towel exercise. Roll up a towel into roughly the thickness of a water bottle. Lying on your back on the floor, place the rolled up towel underneath the neck, close to your shoulders so you’re looking back. This performs a gentle disc stretch and encourages your neck back into a more healthy alignment.

We hope you found today’s article helpful! If you have any questions at all about the article today, please do get in touch as we would love to hear from you. You can reach out to us through our social channels, by email at info@themayfairclinic.com or by tuning in to our livestreams every weekday on our Facebook and YouTube channel. If you’re struggling with back pain, do make sure to check out our Back In Shape membership area. This has been designed to help you rehabilitate your back problem from home, using our expert guidance to help you through the rehabilitation process. Sign up for free today by visiting www.backinshapeapp.com.

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