According to experts, bad posture could be wrecking your health. With many of us working in front of a computer for eight hours a day, slouched over our desks, and then spending our free time glued to our smartphone screens, there’s been a huge increase in “tech-neck” and other posture-related problems in recent years. Not only can it cause health conditions such as spinal dysfunction, joint deterioration, high blood pressure and respiratory problems, but it could be making you look older than you are. The good news is that it can be fixed. Below, we’ve rounded up tips on improving your posture and helping you look and feel younger…
Common causes of bad posture
According to one study, 80% of Americans suffer from a bad back at some point in their lives, but less than half of us worry about it. There are lots of reasons why your posture might be suffering – understanding the common causes can help you discover the cures.
- Age: As we get older, we stoop lower as our bodies become less agile. As a result, we exercise less and spend more time sitting down, which can further weaken our bodies, resulting in muscle strength loss, which means we can’t stand up straight.
- Weight: If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to suffer from posture issues. Extra weight can pull the pelvis forward, which can misalign the spine and add stress to our backs. Women with larger breasts can also suffer from back/posture problems.
- Heels: We hate to break it to you, but those heels are bad news! Wearing high heels can push your body’s centre of mass forward, which can misalign the hips and spine. When worn over time, this can have a long-term effect on your back.
- Ill-fitting bras: Make sure you go for a bra fitting every couple of years, as wearing an ill-fitting bra could be holding you back. Bras that are too tight or aren’t supporting your breasts can affect the curvature of the spine, causing hunching.
- Poor-fitting shoes: It’s not just heels that could be impacting your posture; those old pumps are bad news, too. Choose shoes that are comfortable and supportive, avoid flip-flops at all costs, and replace your favourite pair of shoes once the soles begin to wear, as this can change the way you walk and lead to back pain long-term.
- Smartphones: As we’ve already touched upon, our phones could be damaging our posture. If you’re spending too much time staring down at your phone, you can damage your neck, leading to added pressure on your spine and poor posture.
- Sitting at a desk: Invest in ergonomic chairs and speak to your human resources department if you’re not comfortable at work. The wrong chair or a poor desk setup could lead to a hunched posture – take breaks away from your desk when possible.
Impact of poor posture on the body
Now we understand the causes of poor posture, a quick word on how it can negatively affect your body and your appearance. Perhaps the most obvious is that it increases the likelihood of falls and poor balance as you age, and it affects how well your heart can pump blood around the body, which impacts the appearance of your face and its natural ability to repair skin cells. If your body can’t perform at its best, the damage will become permanent, leading to more fine lines and wrinkles perhaps prematurely, making you look older than you are.
Over time, bad posture can lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain, poor circulation, and even impaired lung function. Posture also impacts digestion, can constrict nerves endings, and cause a misaligned spine and a curvature of the spine. Those with poor posture are also likely to lean forward, encouraging jaw clenching, which causes headaches and jaw pain.
Testing your posture
One of the best ways to “test” whether you have good posture is to perform a simple balance test. Standing on one foot can help you determine whether your body is balanced, so follow this strategy. If you can’t balance on each leg for at least 20 seconds, you might need to work on improving your balance. We’ve put together advice on doing exactly that below…
- Stand up straight
- Lift one leg and count to 20
- Repeat the process with the other leg
Making changes can improve your posture
- Stand up: If you work a desk job, stand up for a couple of minutes every hour and go for a walk. Stretching can also help. Turning on the Stand Up reminders on your Apple Watch can help you to consider your posture when you’re busy in the office.
- Exercise your spine: Every morning and evening, lay down on the floor and make “snow angels” for five minutes. These will improve your core and help you stabilize your body in a strong upright position – the more work you do, the better you’ll feel.
- Sit up straight: We’re all guilty of slouching at work, so learn to sit straight in your chair. Sitting up tall with your shoulders dropped might feel alien or uncomfortable at first, but it is better than slouching and will help to promote improved posture.
- Consider yoga: Yoga is a great way to build and maintain flexibility and strengthen your muscles, which can have a serious impact on posture. Start on YouTube here.
- Try Oralift: Oralift is a small mouthguard-like device designed to activate the forgotten muscles in your face and turn back the clock, naturally. Users have reported a wide range of benefits, including improved head posture over time.
- Check your Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is essential for bone health and muscle maintenance. Up your intake by going outdoors, or by taking a supplement.
The truth is that you cannot change your posture overnight, but by following the advice we have offered in this article, you’ll slowly start to see changes which will not only benefit your health but make you look your best. Check back soon for more anti-ageing advice.