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Is Your Posture Hurting Your Spine Health?

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It’s not unusual to spend hours hunched over a screen each day. In 2021 alone, Americans used their phones 28.5 hours per week, which is about 80% higher than pre-pandemic estimates.

With the increased usage of screens, it's no surprise that poor posture has become a widespread problem. Whether it's sitting at a desk, scrolling on our smartphones, or slouching on the couch, neglecting the importance of maintaining proper posture is a widespread issue.

But did you know that your posture could be detrimental to your spine health? In this blog post, our team of board-certified surgeons at Orthopedic Specialists of Oakland County explores the impact of posture on your spine and provides tips on how to improve it for a healthier, pain-free life.

Posture: it’s more than just a confidence booster!

Good posture 一 standing tall and confidently 一 can make you appear and even feel more confident. Studies show that good posture can even improve your work and school performance!

Good posture refers to the correct alignment of your body when you walk, sit, and lay down. This means your spine (from your neck to your tailbone) is properly positioned, and the supporting muscles and ligaments are under a minimal amount of stress. 

Maintaining good posture is crucial because it helps distribute the force of gravity evenly throughout your body, reducing the strain on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. 

Effects of poor posture on your spine health

Now that we’ve covered what posture is and why good posture matters, let’s take a look at the inverse: poor posture. Poor posture places excessive stress on your spine, leading to a range of musculoskeletal problems over time. This includes:

Increased risk of spinal misalignment

Poor posture, especially when prolonged, can lead to misalignment of your spine and overstretching of your ligaments. Poor posture can contribute to conditions, such as postural kyphosis (rounded upper back) or hyperlordosis. These misalignments can cause pain, stiffness, and restricted mobility.

Back and neck pain

Slouching or hunching forward puts additional pressure on the muscles and discs in your spine, leading to chronic back and neck pain. Straining your neck forward (to text or type on a computer) can put the equivalent of up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck. Over time, this can develop into more serious conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.

Reduced lung capacity

Rounded shoulders and a forward head posture can compress the lungs, restricting the amount of oxygen you can take in. This not only affects your overall health but can also lead to fatigue and decreased productivity.

Digestive issues

Poor posture can compress your abdominal organs, affecting digestion and causing problems like acid reflux, constipation, and bloating.

Improving your posture

The good news is that you can take steps to improve your posture and reduce your risk of posture-related spinal issues. To immediately improve your post, keep these tips in mind:

Sit properly

When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor, knees at a 90-degree angle, and your back supported by the chair. Use a cushion or a lumbar roll to maintain the natural curve of your lower back. 

Stand tall

When standing, distribute your weight evenly on both feet, keep your shoulders relaxed, and let your arms hang naturally at your sides. Avoid slumping or locking your knees. Wearing well-fitting shoes can also help you stand tall (and comfortably) without sacrificing poor posture when walking or standing.

Take frequent breaks

If you have a sedentary job, make a habit of taking short breaks every 30 minutes to stretch, walk, or perform simple exercises to relieve muscle tension.

Strengthen your core

Engaging in exercises that strengthen your core muscles, such as yoga or Pilates, can help improve posture and support your spine. Yoga and pilates are both available online (so you can workout at home), or you can find local in-person classes.

Ergonomic setup

Ensure your workspace is ergonomically designed with an adjustable chair, desk, and computer screen at eye level to maintain proper alignment and reduce strain.

Practice mindfulness

Be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Regularly check in with yourself, adjust as needed, and develop body awareness to make good posture a habit. If you find yourself slouching throughout the day, write a sticky note and hang in a visible place.

Still dealing with back pain?

Remember, a little effort today can go a long way in ensuring a healthier spine for years to come, but if your back and neck pain lingers long after you improve your posture, don’t hesitate to let us know. From physical therapy to spine injections to spine surgery, our team excels at helping you find relief from spine pain.

Questions about your spine health? Send us a text at 248-955-2622, use our online form, or call the Michigan location of your choice to get started.