Noticing some back pain while reading this? Feeling fatigued? Are you sitting down? If so, you may be sitting with poor posture. Keep reading below for a free guide we created to help you eradicate physical pain and stress in the workplace.
With over 80 percent of adults in the United States experiencing back pain, have you ever paused to consider what might actually be going on?
With the rise of the information economy and manual labor seemingly on the decline, there's one glaringly obvious culprit — sitting.
Sitting isn't inherently bad for your health … it's the length of time you're sitting.
Think about it. You sit driving to work; you sit all day at work; you sit driving home; and when you do get home, you plop down on the couch to binge-watch the latest Netflix release.
As you may already know, sitting for extended periods of time is terrible for your health. In fact, it's considered worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!
However, within that overarching adverse effect of sitting all day, there are dozens of negative effect multipliers.
One, in particular, is akin to taking the ramifications of sitting all day and turning them up 10X and strapping dynamite to them.
Sounds bad, right?
Whatever could it be?
Glad you asked.
Negative Effect Multiplier: Sitting with Bad Posture
Do you remember, when growing up, what your parents, teachers, and coaches would say?
“Stand up straight!”
“Pull your shoulders back!”
If you don't remember, that's good because the constant nagging would get annoying. Especially if you’re a Slouchy McSloucher Pants like me.
As annoying as the nagging may have been, they were actually on to something.
Poor posture has its own set of implications like causing curvature of the spine, but sitting with poor posture is like taking a forest fire and dousing it with gasoline.
We’ve uncovered a cornucopia of adverse effects and boiled them down to the five that our medical staff considers being the most harmful.
Read below to discover the five most harmful effects of sitting with poor posture, and if you’d like a printable cheat sheet to hang by the desk, we’ve got you covered at the end of the article.
Poor Circulation to the Brain
If you’re reading this at work while sitting at your desk, pause for a moment to notice how you feel.
If you’re elsewhere, think back to a moment in your day when you felt foggy, spaced out, or unable to think.
While some of that feeling may stem from nutritional factors, researchers at San Francisco State University studied 110 slouching students and discovered poor posture can affect energy output through reduced circulation.
It should be noted that issues with poor circulation can impact multiple areas of the body as a result of a pressure point caused by slouching.
However, regarding poor circulation to the brain , it's most likely caused by the added pressure on the vertebrae in the neck.
In fact, studies suggest leaning your head forward even 30 degrees can put as much as 40 pounds of pressure on your neck!
So the next time you catch yourself slouching, do this: picture a 45-pound Olympic plate hanging from your head … the mental picture alone is enough to make you want to sit up straight.
Or, for a good laugh, just picture yourself with a giant 45-pound head 🙂
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
How does poor sitting posture impact your wrists, you ask?
Get ready for the mind-blower …
… the nerves in the neck and upper back control function in the arms and hands!
By definition, carpal tunnel syndrome is numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hand due to increased and sustained pressure on the median nerve in your wrist.
What’s that old nursery rhyme? The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone … the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone …
It's the same thing here: when you slouch, you pinch the vertebrae in the neck. The vertebrae in the neck are connected to nerves in the neck and upper back. The nerves in the neck and upper back are attached to the elbows, wrists, and hands.
Starting with the vertebrae in the neck, slouching increases pressure and causes a chain reaction of adverse effects. These negative effects include tingly elbows, wrists, hands, and ultimately, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Decrease in Digestion Function
If you stop to think about it, this seems pretty obvious, right?
How could poor sitting posture impact your digestion?
Just like poor posture affects circulation in various parts of the body, it affects digestion in the same way.
The act of slouching bunches the organs in your body together, almost like an accordion, essentially creating a digestive traffic jam throughout your stomach and intestines.
And where there’s stoppage, there’s blockage. Take it from the older folks out there, you don’t want to deal with an intestinal obstruction if you don’t have to.
Next time you eat, and for at least two hours post-meal, be mindful of your posture and help your digestive system process all that nutritional goodness you just inhaled.
Do you think sitting upright, all day, in a good position is hard?
Slouching is actually way harder.
The muscles in your neck and back aren’t designed to slouch all day, so they grow worn and tired.
This prolonged physical stress breaks down and fatigues the muscles of the neck and back, leading to soreness and pain.
Also, remember our good friend circulation?
That’s right. The lack of blood flow is one of the ultimate villains of health and vitality.
Overall, decreased circulation in the body leads to a general stagnant, fatigued feeling.
If you’re not convinced, the next time you’re feeling fatigued, get up and go for a brisk 5-minute walk and pay attention to how awake and energized you feel afterward.
Does a negative mood cause poor posture?
Or does poor posture cause a negative mood?
Seems a bit like a chicken vs. egg scenario, doesn’t it?
A study published in Health Psychology actually discovered that people who sat with poor or slouched posture were more likely to report lower self-esteem and experience more frequent bouts of fear and anxiety.
One could make the case that with so many things impacted by poor posture, even a slight decrease in circulation could lead to fatigue, which in turn could spark feelings of lower self-esteem, increased fear, and anxiety.
It’s a biological fact that when we’re tired, our emotions are heightened. Some say it evolved as a survival mechanism to keep us safe from the lions and bears at night.
We say the only bear in this scenario is poor posture itself. So sit up, dust yourself off, and watch your energy and life transform along the way.
While sitting all day has its own set of negative implications and should be avoided or reduced at all cost … sitting with poor posture can multiply those adverse effects tenfold.
So now you know the problem, what about the solution? In other words, how do you actually correct poor posture while sitting?
Unfortunately, correcting poor sitting posture isn’t as simple as just sitting up straight. While that may be an excellent place to start, a better idea would be to download the “Top 4 Sitting Postures” cheat sheet below, read it twice, and hang it by your desk as a reminder.
FREE Guide to Help Eradicate Physical Pain & Stress in the Workplace
Eliminate pain and stress at work once and for all by discovering the magic of neutral body positioning. Click below to download our free guide “Top 4 Sitting Postures: A Cheat Sheet to Eradicate Physical Pain & Stress in the Workplace.”
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