Most of us have been told to stand up straight our whole life, and it seemed like it was just another way to look put together and proper. However, it turns out that your posture can impact more than just your looks, and there are some surprising side effects of bad posture that you might not even realize. How we carry ourselves can impact the rest of our body, both physically and mentally.
"Having bad posture can lead to a multitude of health hazards," says chiropractor Dr. Matt Tanneberg DC, CSCS over email. "When you make bad posture a part of your daily routine, you are constantly retraining your body to function inappropriately."
Posture is just one component of your health, but it can have a surprisingly big impact. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to fix your posture, and once you do, you might be pleased to find that you see improvements in all areas of your life. If you're not inspired by solely the idea of looking taller, you'll want to pay attention to these 11 surprising side effects of bad posture – they might make you want to reconsider slouching over your desk every morning.
"Poor alignment or posture is one of the leading cause of neck pain back pain and headaches," says chiropractor Dr. Todd Sinett over email. Hunching over and looking down puts extra strain on the posterior muscles of the neck to keep your head from falling forward. This can put strain on the muscles, causing headaches.
Poor posture can negatively impact our ability to sleep, says Sinett. "If our muscular system is not aligned properly, we won’t be able to fully relax," he says.
How you sit or stand seems to be completely separate from your mood, but your posture can actually play a role in your mental state. A study from the journal Health Psychology found that people who sat with a slumped posture exhibited more negative moods, more fear, and lower self-esteem than those who sat upright.
If you're slumped over miserably at work, your work ethic might be affected. In that same study from Health Psychology, researchers found that the slumped participants showed reduced focus and lower confidence. "Someone who is slouching will appear less confident or shy," says Tanneberg. "Someone who has proper posture appears more confident and approachable, which will affect many social situations."
All of that misalignment can also end up affecting your feet. "Bad posture can create foot pain and not allow you to wear your favorite shoes," says Sinett. This makes it important to pay attention to your posture from your head to your toes.
6Workout Recovery Issues
Poor posture can impact your workouts and recovery times. "Certain muscles will become overworked with poor posture and will fatigue too quickly, leading to more pain during and after a workout because the body will become inflamed and irritated," says Sinett.
7Lower Back Pain
"Most people think of upper back and neck pain from bad posture," says Tanneberg. "However, when you slouch, not only do you roll your shoulders forward, but you also flatten out your low back, which will eventually lead to pain."
"The nerves that come out from your neck and upper back control muscle function and sensations of the arms, wrists, and hands," says Tanneberg. "The nerves can get pinched from the spine (bone or discs) or from chronically tight muscles, which will lead to carpal-tunnel-type numbness, tingling, or pain throughout the arm."
When you have poor posture, your body has to work harder to keep you upright, which can end up leaving you feeling tired. "Your nervous system wants to maintain a posture that is upright and demands the least amount of muscle activation as possible," says holistic chiropractor Dr. Mike Okouchi over email. "The more you deviate from center, the harder the system has to work, and thus you expend and require more energy."
Bathroom troubles? Blame your stance. "Altered posture alters how your internal organs function," says Okouchi. "This has a profound effect on how your intestines move food matter through. Bad posture slows the movement of your intestines and can back you up."
11High Blood Pressure
Slumping while sitting and slouching while standing can end up leading to high blood pressure, according to research from the University of Leeds. The forward rolling of your shoulders and rounding of the back can end up affecting your breathing. "There are also receptors within the neck that affect blood pressure," says Okouchi.