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If your mother used to tell you to “stand up straight” when you were a child, she was right. Poor posture can cause a number of health issues. If you find yourself slouching often, it’s important to correct it as quickly as possible to keep yourself healthy and pain-free. Here are some of the health risks associated with poor posture.
Believe it or not, poor posture can have a tremendous effect on your body’s digestive system. In order to move food through your intestines, your body relies on peristaltic movements that occur on their own without any effort from you. When you’re slouching, you may be compressing your intestines somewhat and hindering the peristaltic function. This can prevent your digestive system from properly moving the food through and may result in gas, bloating, and constipation.
Your body was born to stand upright. The tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles in your body only align properly when you are standing (or sitting) with good posture. Poor posture for even a day or two can cause significant shoulder and back pain because your muscles and bones are not properly aligned. If it goes uncorrected, it could lead to a permanent rounding of your shoulders or even the degenerate the bones and joints in your spine.
If you slouch when you sit, then your head probably leans forward somewhat. When this happens, you’ll likely clench your jaw, which tightens your facial muscles. In the short term, this may cause acute jaw pain and even headaches due to the contraction of facial muscles. Over time, the repeated motion can lead to significant health problems that include the breakdown of the temporomandibular joint and perhaps even dental problems.
When you slouch, you are essentially compressing your torso to a degree. This means there is less room for your organs, and especially the lungs, which need to expand and contract in order to provide your blood with the oxygen it needs to keep you alive. A study performed by the University of Southern California Department of Physical Medicine showed that slouching can reduce lung function by as much as 30%, which has a tremendous impact on a variety of bodily systems. It may make you feel “foggy” and tired, lead to shortness of breath, and even cause one of several cardiovascular diseases if left unchecked.
Varicose veins are those unsightly bulging veins that most often develop in the legs. They occur when the valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards fail and allow blood to pool in the vein rather than moving toward your heart. Oftentimes, it’s caused by poor circulation. If you slouch, you’re putting pressure on your vena cava, which is a very large vein responsible for moving blood to your heart. This effects the circulation in your entire body, which can lead to varicose veins.
As it turns out, standing up (or sitting) with good posture really can have a tremendous impact on your health. Poor posture can cause everything from circulatory and digestive problems to pain in the jaw, head, neck, and back. The good news is that you can correct your poor posture and help reduce the risk of developing any of these conditions. If you suffer form poor posture, learn about the best exercises to improve posture here.