Our ancestors moved constantly – first hunting and gathering, then working the fields, constructing homes, standing all day in factories and more. And while our modern lifestyle has brought many benefits, it’s also brought us less movement and more pain. That’s because without movement, the joints of our body freeze up, our muscles lock down, arthritis sets in and our once straight spines become hunched.
It’s no wonder that bad posture has become an epidemic in this country.
Luckily, there’s good news…
Knowing the cause of your bad posture can help you fix it, so that you can say goodbye to the back pain, neck pain or headaches that ruin your day.
That’s why in this article we’re going to not only breakdown the causes of bad posture, we’ll look at the main types that you might recognize in yourself when you look in the mirror. And we’ll also take a look what symptoms you may be feeling as a result, as well as what you can do to straighten up and feel better.
What’s behind your posture problems?
As a country, we sit more than ever. And let’s face it – it’s a problem that only accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, with more and more of us working from home in our pajamas, bingeing on Netflix and skipping the gym.
Of course, while skipping the commute to the office may have been great, all that sitting has added up when it comes to our spines.
Prolonged sitting causes your hip flexors to shorten as your hamstrings become overworked, while keeping your glutes from firing, causing them to become weak. All of this results in what’s known as anterior pelvic tilt or APT.
Additionally, sitting and looking down at a screen, whether your phone, an iPad of a laptop causes your head to tip forward. This tip strains your back and neck muscles, building over time until you lose the normal curve in your neck that you were born with.
And that’s not the only neck problem you may have. After all, how many times have you stuck your phone between your ear and your shoulder to talk? Well, now not only do you have a head-forward posture, you could also be developing a side tilt in your spine. Not pretty, right!
Finally, if you’re using a chair with lumbar support that’s either too soft or doesn’t encourage good posture, there are more problems ahead due to a muscular imbalance that makes your chest muscles stronger than your back muscles. The result? Shoulder that roll forward.
Common types of bad posture
So what will you see in the mirror if you have posture problems?
- Head forward posture – In head forward posture the hole to your ear canal will be in front of the middle of your shoulder.
- Kyphosis – If it always looks like you’re slouching, this means that the thoracic (mid-back) curve in your spine has become exaggerated.
- Lordosis – Anterior pelvic tilt causes a swayback look, making your stomach appear larger and your buttocks more prominent.
- Flatback - This type of bad posture is due to a loss of the curves in your spine that causes you to lean forward.
The pain of bad posture
Bad posture results in far more than the changes you see outwardly as well. In fact, bad posture can affect you both physically and emotionally.
Here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing due to posture problems.
- Muscle spasm
When your posture is good, your muscles work like a symphony orchestra, with one side providing the perfect balance for the other. However, when bad posture sets in, this balance is lost. Rather than helping you stand straight and strong, one muscle group will become significantly overworked, painful trigger points will build up, the muscles will tense and spasm and you’re left struggling with pain.
Even worse, the opposite muscles weaken and if not addressed, will allow your posture problems and the entire cycle of pain to accelerate. Over time, this can lead to serious back problems and even surgery.
- Pressure in the disc spaces
Your spine was intelligently designed with each vertebrae stacked perfectly, one on top of the other. However, bad posture destroys that design, forcing your spine into an unnatural position that can irritate and inflame your disc spaces, lock down your muscles and compress your nerves. That’s why so many people with bad posture suffer from chronic headaches, back pain and eventual disc problems, such as herniation.
- Degeneration of vertebrae and discs
That pressure that we just talked about is painful in the short term but incredibly damaging in the long-term. Over time, it can cause increased wear and tear of your vertebrae and discs, resulting in compressed nerves and degeneration. This can accelerate the development of osteoarthritis and increase your chances of suffering a herniated disc or bone spur.
- Increased stress
The symptoms caused by bad posture can also affect you emotionally, leading to high levels of stress or even depression. When you’re in pain, you’re much more likely to feel as if there’s no help available and that you’ll always suffer. It can be hard to make it through your day or even enjoy the things you used to love.
Tips for perfect posture
The good news is, there are ways to correct your posture so that you don’t have to suffer.
The first is through the use of inversion therapy.
Inversion uses gravity in conjunction with your body weight to release the pressure on your spinal vertebrae and discs and strengthen and elongate your back muscles that have become tight due to poor posture.
Additionally, if you use an inversion table like Backlounge, you can experience added posture correction thanks to its built-in foam rollers which address trigger points in your hips and thighs that are keeping your spinal muscles locked down.
And its cervical foam roller encourages your head to tilt back in order to reduce problems with head forward posture.
Finally, a great way to find relief from your posture problems is by incorporating specific exercises into your daily routine.
We love this 10 minute posture workout that hits all the major muscle groups to help you get your posture back on track fast: