This one habit of yours can invite spondylitis, headache, vertigo,

Bad posture can ruin your health&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • If work from home has given you more time with your family, it has also caused work hours to bleed into family time.
  • Homes are not designed to replace office space, your body is not primed for prolonged slouching at the desk.
  • Here’s how you can consciously save your health from becoming a casualty of this emergency work arrangement.

Many of us have compromised our health, thanks to modern-day lifestyles and workstyles. Whether it’s the result of sitting at a desk all day, looking down at a smartphone or lounging on a couch, poor posture is dogging people of all ages. 

Posture is the position of your body when you’re standing or sitting. It describes how your spine is aligned with your head, shoulders, and hips. While none of us can claim to have perfect bodies, everyone desires a body that is not a picture of the ravages of bad posture.

Good posture refers to having a neutral spine, where your muscle groups, joints, and ligaments are aligned in a way that reduces stress on them, keeps your body flexible, reduces fatigue, and helps maintain your balance. Bad or out-of-alignment posture can affect your appearance, self-confidence, and general well-being. 

When bad posture occurs due to repetitive-use injury to your upper back, neck muscles, forearms, wrists, and hands-on account of a combination of poor posture, excessive texting, and smartphone use — it is called Text Neck. When you bend your next to take your head forward in an awkward way that distributes your weight unevenly on the delicate cervical vertebrae, you risk injury that could give you vertigo, headache and a distorted spine. Text Neck can also give you rounded shoulders which cause your upper back muscles to overstretch and tighten the chest muscles. That can lead to numbness in the hands or excruciating pain. Your abdominal muscles and glutes will lose tone and potentially cause a bulging or herniated disc.

While back and neck conditions top the list of potential posture woes, there are many others — such as poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties. “Researchers are also looking into whether posture affects mood, sleep, fatigue, and jaw alignment,” says Meghan Markowski, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

There are other problems linked to poor posture that may surprise you, Markowski tells Harvard Health.

1. Incontinence or Constipation: Incontinence can become an embarrassing problem — when you leak a little urine if you laugh or cough. “Slouching increases abdominal pressure, which puts pressure on the bladder. The position also decreases the ability of the pelvic floor muscles to hold against that pressure,” notes Markowski, who specializes in helping people overcome bladder, bowel, and pelvic floor problems.

2. Heartburn and slowed digestion: Slouched posture after a meal can trigger heartburn caused by acid reflux (when stomach acid squirts back up into the oesophagus). “Slouching puts pressure on the abdomen, which can force stomach acid in the wrong direction,” explains Dr Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “And some evidence suggests that transit in the intestines slows down when you slouch. In my opinion, it probably does play a small role.”

You must see a doctor immediately. He/she may recommend that you see a physical therapist who trains in a program of exercises and stretches to improve your core muscle strength and flexibility. To reduce the risk of stress incontinence leakage, Markowski recommends strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. 

Steps you can take to correct your posture:

  1. Sit the right way: If you have to sit for extended periods of time, sit in a chair with good low back support and rest your feet on a low stool. 
  2. Set a reminder to ensure that you switch sitting positions and get up and walk around a bit throughout the day.
  3. When you are sitting before your laptop or computer, support your low back with a lumbar roll, rolled towel, or small pillow.
  4. Avoid leaning forward or sitting on the edge of the chair as that can cause your low back to arch, your head to drop forward, and your shoulders to round.
  5. Keep the shoulders relaxed, arms to the sides and touch the body at least till the elbows, bent at 90 degrees.
  6. Learn some neck, arm, shoulder, waist stretches from your doctor and do them 3-4 times a day. 

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.

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