Health Risks Posed by Incorrect Posture

14 Jun 2023

We all know and have often heard how important it is to stand up straight, not slouch, and have correct posture when working in the gym. However, how many of us pay attention to keeping our bodies straight? Prolonged sitting in an incorrect posture strains the neck and the vertebrae muscles and also affects your internal organs, putting pressure on them, respectively, on blood pressure and even on the digestive system. Several health risks are posed by incorrect posture, and we will look at some of them in the article below.

What is Incorrect Posture - Causes and Main Signs

Poor posture is usually the result of several factors:

1. Habits - prolonged sitting in an uncomfortable position for the body (e.g. with crossed legs), carrying something heavy with only one hand or on one shoulder (e.g. a heavy handbag, shopping bags, etc.), incorrectly grasping heavy objects (e.g. carrying tools, heavy physical labour, people practising professions related to repair)

2. Physical exertion - the lack of such as a result of a sedentary lifestyle or the other extreme, where strength movements are performed, but incorrectly - lead respectively to poorly developed musculature or to improperly developed musculature

3. Spinal diseases – osteochondrosis, rickets, bone tuberculosis, problems with intervertebral discs

The first signs of poor posture are visible slouching when sitting, walking or standing. This can result in back pain or even stiffness. A common sensation is a characteristically unpleasant “tingling” on the back. If you notice significant asymmetry between the right and left half of the body, it may also be from incorrect posture. Another sign can be rapid fatigue.

What Disorders Does Incorrect Posture Lead to?

There are several types of visible disorders as a result of incorrect posture. The body can take on some of the following types of forms:

1. Flat back – the absence of the natural curves of the spine

2. Hump - or the so-called slouching is when the head is tilted forward, and the spine behind the neck is severely curved (the medical term for this is kyphosis)

3. Flat-concave back - curvature of the lower part of the spine above the tail. The abdomen protrudes forward and the pelvis back - as if the hips are walking in front of the body (med. acute lumbar lordosis)

4. Round-concave back – a combination of points 2 and 3. Both parts of the spine, where there are curves, are strongly distorted.

Correct Posture When Standing, Sitting and Walking

Correct body posture is neither perfectly straight nor too crooked. The human body has smooth curves, and the spine has a double S-shape. To check your proper posture, stand (not lean) firmly against a wall. The heels, calves, cheeks, shoulder blades and occiput should rest against the wall. In any other case, you have bad posture. Here is a more detailed look at how the body should look in a standing, sitting and walking position:

Correct Posture While Standing - The feet are shoulder-width apart, and the knees are slightly bent - The weight of the body falls on the pads of the feet - The arms are straight and freely dropped by the body - The back is straight - The belly is tucked in

Correct Posture When Sitting - The feet rest on the floor, and the legs should, in no case, hang in the air. If necessary, seek support for the feet. - The knees are at the same level as the hips or slightly lower - It is necessary to leave a small distance between the inner fold of the knees and the seat, i.e. the inner fold does not touch the chair - The shoulders are relaxed - It is good to have a small pillow between the back of the chair and the lower back for support - The body should be upright, not tilted forward or to the side - Cross-legged posture has to be avoided

Correct Posture When Walking - The back is straight but not tense - Shoulders are straight - The head is held upright, not relaxed between the shoulders - The neck continues the straight line of the spine - The chin is slightly raised - The abdomen is tucked in, with the muscles slightly tense

How to Form Proper Posture - Habits and Exercises

Habits take time to stick with your routine, but when it comes to one’s health, it is highly recommended that you take your time because they will pay off in the long run. Some of the beneficial habits to bring into your daily life to improve body posture are the following:

1. When standing for a long time, the main weight of the body should be shifted from leg to leg.

2. When sitting for a long time, periodically twist slightly by stretching your arms.

3. Staying in a sitting position is not recommended. Every 15 minutes, slightly change the position of your legs and back, and it is even better to take a little walk.

4. When walking, the legs should not be stretched excessively.

5. When moving and training, follow the coach’s instructions for a straight posture while performing the exercises.

6. Limit crossing your legs while sitting.

7. Avoid wearing heels frequently.

8. Do not carry heavy objects on only one side of the body for extended periods.

9. Move the whole body more often with walks.

10. Use comfortable chairs in case of prolonged sitting.

11. Position the work screen so that you do not have to change the natural position of the body, i.e. not lean forward; lower or raise your head.

In addition to the habits that are desirable to build for better posture, regular exercise also contributes a lot. Here are some simple exercises to maintain proper posture.

1. Walking with a book on your head. Stand with your back to the wall, place a book on your head and slowly walk a few meters.

2. Sit cross-legged on the ground. Raise your arms above your head so that your armpits and elbows form a 90-degree angle. Use dumbbells or an elastic band, holding this pose for at least 5 seconds. Additionally, you can push the dumbbells up or stretch the elastic to the side.

3. To straighten your back, stand in a kneeling position. Extend the left arm with the right leg at least ten times, then switch to the right and left leg, doing ten repetitions again.

4. Similar to the previous exercise, but this time in a lying position. Lie on your stomach. You can use a pillow placed in the upper abdominal area if necessary. Alternate lifting opposite limbs a few inches off the ground while keeping your eyes on the floor. After a few repetitions, try doing the so-called scissors by crossing your legs and arms in the air.

5. Two easy stretches from yoga do great for back mobility and straightening your posture. The “cat back” is done by standing in a kneeling position and alternately curling the spine up while pressing the chin to the chest and then curling the spine down, lifting the head. The cobra pose is done by lying on the ground on your stomach and slowly lifting only your upper body using your arms until you straighten them. Conversely, you must return to the starting position in the same way. Repeat at least three times.

How Does Digital Technology Help?

With persistence and building positive habits, you can maintain an upright body position and support your health. In cases where you need a consultation with a doctor, you can use the Medrec:M digital health application, which will allow you to connect completely remotely with a specialist to conduct an online consultation. Share your health information with one click and make a doctor’s visit from the comfort of your home through the Medrec:M app. Learn more here.