Ways Poor Posture Can Seriously Hurt Your Health

by Isadora Baum, CHC

We often forget to stand up straight and maintain proper posture, as sitting at a desk for many hours in the day can lead to a slouched back and shoulders. Unfortunately, poor posture can hurt our well-being and health over time, so it's important to check in with yourself to make sure that you're sitting up as tall and proud as you can, with shoulders back, spine upright, and chest out, as explained by Sylvia Marten, President of Spine-health, a site with trusted information compiled by medical practitioners.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on keeping their bones healthy, their bodies in tip-top shape, and their confidence high. According to Richard Petty, co-author of a 2009 study at Ohio State University, found in the issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology, and professor of psychology at Ohio State University, having tall, upright posture can directly influence how people perceive you and how you even perceive yourself. Petty explained how having that extra height can boost your own confidence and self-worth, and such positivity can extend into other life areas and affect our well-being. Beyond the advantages of sitting tall, here are 11 ways that poor posture can actually hurt our health.

1. It Can Worsen Arthritis

Dr. Lisa Ashe, medical director of BeWell Medical Group, tells Bustle via email how poor posture can lead to exacerbated pain and discomfort in people who suffer from joint issues and arthritis. Ashe says, "Poor posture has a significant impact on pain in patients with arthritis." If you suffer from this condition, be wary of posture.

2. It Can Affect Self-Esteem

Although mentioned briefly, Ashe provides a second opinion regarding self-esteem and says that poor posture can lower self-esteem, although it's not proven that slouching will always lead to a lower self-esteem. "Poor posture is associated with decreased confidence and decreased self-esteem," Ashe explains. Stand tall and proud to boost well-being.

3. It Can Worsen Depression

Ashe explains how poor posture, and the result of lower self-esteem and self-worth, can trigger depressive symptoms, especially in those who are more predisposed for depression and anxiety disorders. If you have suffered from low confidence in the past, being mindful of sitting tall and confident can reduce such emotions.

4. It Can Affect Your Jaw

According to Ashe, poor posture does not only affect mental health and emotional well-being, but it can also interfere with the body's ability to function and feel comfortable and agile. "Poor head and neck posture can lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a muscular dysfunction of the jaw," says Ashe. This condition can cause major discomfort over time, relative to neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.

5. It Can Interfere With Your Ability To Breathe

Imagine if we struggled to breathe fresh air in the day. Ashe explains that when we have compromised lung health, it can prevent tissues from receiving oxygenated blood. Ashe says that "poor posture can affect the diaphragm, which can affect breathing and digestion." In order to keep breathing clear and unobstructed, and your digestion smooth and regular, you should focus on sitting and standing with height, rather than slouching.

6. It Can Negatively Affect Work Performance

According to Janice Novak, author of Posture, Get it Straight and director of, in interview with Prevention, slouching over at work can make people think you're less vital to the team and not as valuable as a company member, due to the perceived lack of confidence. Such perceptions can lower performance and prevent you from receiving the treatment and promotional opportunities you might deserve.

7. It Can Lead To Constipation

Over interview with Prevention, Steven Weiniger, author of Stand Taller, Live Longer and founder of, said sitting and standing in a slumped position, with poor posture, can back you up and slow down regular bowel movements. If this occurs over time, it can lead to constipation and negatively affect your well-being. It can interfere with the body's ability to function well and lead to feelings of bloat and lethargy.

8. It Can Result In Less Sleep

According to physicians at Collins Chiropractic, poor posture can lead to trouble sleeping, such as insomnia, apnea, and disrupted sleep patterns. If it prolongs over time, such deficits in sleep can lead to stress and anxiety, as well as chronic fatigue that will reduce productivity and performance during the day. Stand tall for better sleep and greater restoration each morning.

9. It Can Lead To Neck Pain

In an interview with the website Spine-health, Gavin Morrison, PT explained that poor posture can lead to neck pain, as well as more long-term difficulties, such as disc degeneration, which can be incredibly painful and harmful to your well-being over time. Morrison also said that in conjunction, shoulder and back pain can put added pressure on the neck. Morrison suggested being mindful of work desks and chairs, and to keep the body even, without rotating to one side too often in the day.

10. It Can Make You Stressed

According to a study out of San Francisco State University, poor posture can make you more stressed, and stress can expedite health conditions in the body and lead to a lower quality of life and well-being, as noted. When you have poor posture, your internal processes slow down, which can cause stress on the body, the study explained. Stand and walk around, and avoid sitting for too long in an unstable, crunched over position.

11. It Can Create Tension Headaches

According to Ashe, having poor posture can put pressure on the body and mind and can result in painful tension headaches, which can last for hours on end and impact how well we are able to function and stay mentally alert in the day. Having a headache during a busy workweek can really delay progress, as it can be hard to focus and feel competent when there's a pounding sensation in your temples.

Being mindful of your posture throughout the day can lead to greater well-being and health and prevent harmful side effects, such as neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, digestive woes, headaches, and self-esteem. Keeping yourself upright can boost positivity all around and keep your body functioning optimally for years to come.

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