It’s often said that old habits die hard, but when it comes to posture, those habits could be causing you pain. A good posture not only makes you appear taller and more confident but also helps keep your bones and joints in the correct alignment. Poor posture, on the other hand, can lead to a myriad of health problems.
At ChiroHealth and Rehab, we’ve delved deep into understanding the connection between posture and pain. Serving the greater Fargo community, we’ve identified five common posture mistakes you might be making:
1. Slouching in a Chair
This might be the most common posture mistake, and it’s especially prevalent in today’s work-from-home and office environments. Slouching doesn’t always cause discomfort immediately, but over time this position can strain the discs and other structures of the spine. Beyond just physical strain, slouching can also contribute to fatigue, as it restricts proper breathing. When you slouch, your lungs have less space to expand into, which means less oxygen for your body and brain.
Fix: Ensure your feet touch the floor while sitting and your back is against the chair with proper lumbar support. Invest in an ergonomic chair if possible, which will provide better support for your spine. Adjust your workstation so that your monitor is at eye level, reducing the need to bend your neck. Make it a habit to stand up, stretch, and walk around every hour. Incorporating short breaks and a few quick stretches can not only help with posture but also increase overall productivity and mental clarity.
2. Text Neck
As the digital era progresses, “text neck” has rapidly emerged as a widespread health concern. This term describes the strain on the neck and upper back muscles caused by looking down at phones, tablets, or other devices for extended periods. Over time, this forward and downward motion can lead to severe and chronic neck pain, not to mention other related issues like headaches and shoulder pain. What’s even more concerning is the pressure this posture places on the cervical spine. A slight forward tilt can nearly double the effective weight your neck needs to support. Imagine holding a bowling ball with an outstretched arm versus holding it close to your chest—it’s the same concept.
Fix: First and foremost, be conscious of the time you spend on devices. Hold your phone or tablet at eye level whenever possible, using a stand or holder if necessary. When using these devices for prolonged periods, take regular breaks every 20 minutes, practicing neck and shoulder stretches. Furthermore, strengthen your neck and upper back muscles with exercises to help combat the effects of this posture. Consider setting reminders or alarms to ensure you adjust your position and avoid getting lost in the digital world.
3. Carrying a Heavy Bag on One Shoulder
It’s a sight common in bustling cities and school hallways alike: individuals leaning slightly to one side, compensating for the weight of a bag slung over one shoulder. The convenience of tossing a bag over your shoulder might be tempting, but it often comes at the cost of your musculoskeletal health. Continuously carrying weight on one side can disrupt your body’s natural alignment. The muscles on one side work overtime to support the extra weight, while the opposite side compensates by tensing up. Over time, this uneven weight distribution can lead to muscle imbalances, spinal misalignment, and chronic pain in areas like the back, neck, and hips.
Besides musculoskeletal concerns, frequently carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder can lead to other issues. For instance, it can compress the shoulder’s brachial plexus nerves, leading to numbness or tingling down the arm. It might even affect your gait or walking pattern, placing undue stress on the lower body joints and increasing wear and tear.
Fix: Prioritize only carrying essentials in your bag to lighten the load. If you must carry several items, consider transitioning to a backpack that evenly distributes weight across both shoulders. When using a single-shoulder bag, make it a habit to switch sides regularly, giving each side of your body a break. For those who carry heavy bags daily, like students or professionals with laptops, periodically checking and reorganizing your bag’s contents to eliminate unnecessary items can be especially beneficial.
4. Wearing High Heels Too Often
High heels are a staple in many wardrobes, symbolizing sophistication and elegance. However, these stylish shoes can come with a hidden price: your well-being. When you wear high heels, the foot’s natural position is altered, forcing it into a downward slope. This can cause a chain reaction throughout your body. Your ankles shift forward, your knees might take on extra strain to compensate, and your pelvis may tilt, accentuating the curve in your lower back. All these alterations can lead to an imbalance in your posture.
This isn’t just theoretical; many regular high heel wearers report pain in various parts of the body. The design of high heels places undue pressure on the balls of your feet, leading to conditions like metatarsalgia, bunions, and hammertoes. The calf muscles can become shortened and tightened over time, which might cause discomfort or cramping. More than just the feet and calves, the strain can manifest in the lower back due to the modified stance and posture.
Furthermore, walking in high heels requires a certain balance, and the risk of sprains or fractures from missteps is real. Repeated wear can not only lead to chronic pain but also increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis in the knees.
Fix: Balance is key. It’s not about giving up high heels altogether but rather wearing them in moderation. Opt for lower, more supportive heels when possible, reserving those sky-high stilettos for special occasions. When you do wear heels, ensure they fit well, avoiding shoes that squeeze the toes or lack arch support. Custom orthotic insoles can help distribute pressure more evenly. Also, stretching your feet, calves, and hamstrings after wearing heels can alleviate some of the strain.
5. Standing with a Protruding Belly
Posture is more than just a matter of aesthetics; it’s a window into the body’s alignment and overall health. One common posture mistake, often overlooked, is standing with a protruding belly. Known also as anterior pelvic tilt, this posture involves the pelvis tilting forward, pushing the abdomen out and creating an exaggerated curve in the lower back.
The causes for this posture can be multifaceted. Weak core muscles, especially the abdominals, and tight hip flexors or back muscles can contribute to this stance. Not only does it place increased strain on the lumbar spine, but it can also result in discomfort in the hips and lower back. Over time, if left unchecked, this posture can lead to chronic lumbar pain, potential disc problems, and even issues related to digestion due to the compressed position of the abdominal organs.
Standing with a protruding belly isn’t just about “sucking in” the stomach; it’s about addressing the muscle imbalances that lead to this posture. It’s also worth noting that, for some, hormonal changes, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to a protruding belly, so understanding the root cause is essential.
Fix: Strengthening and engaging the core is paramount. Incorporate exercises like planks, bridges, and pelvic tilts into your routine. Regular stretching, focusing on the hip flexors and lower back, can also help alleviate some of the tightness that contributes to this posture. Ensure you’re aware of your standing posture throughout the day and make adjustments as needed. If you work a desk job, standing desks or periodic breaks to stand and stretch can be beneficial.
At ChiroHealth and Rehab, our mission is to ensure the Fargo community is pain-free and thriving. With 400+ positive reviews and a track record of the Locals Love Us award since 2018, our expertise in chiropractic care, rehab, nutrition, and wellness coaching is unmatched. If you’re struggling with pain related to posture or any other concerns, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with Fargo’s #1 Rated Chiropractor for the past five years. We’re here to help guide your journey to better health