The Ugly Side Effects of Slouching, Expert Says
Slouching doesn't just look bad with your shoulders and back hunched over—it's actually really bad for your overall health. With expert feedback from Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, CPH, MWC, ELS, a member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board, we're here to let you in on the secret side effects of slouching and how you can save your posture. Read on to learn more, and next, be sure to check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.
Slouching on a regular basis could lead to digestive issues
Having bad posture can cause muscle pain, an achy lower back, pain in your shoulders, and even a sore neck. These aren't the only negatives. Slouching on the regular is bad for your internal organs and can potentially cause digestion problems. Dr. Bohl explains why bad posture can cause such issues.
He tells ETNT, "The spine has natural curvatures that hold everything where it's supposed to be and properly absorbs shock when you're standing or sitting upright, but when you're slouching you're putting pressures in places it isn't supposed to be for long periods of time." He adds, "You're also weakening some muscles while necessitating that others become overactive. Over time, this not only means you get muscle pain, it can also mean it gets harder to 'un-slouch,' and you can end up with rounded shoulders and/or a hunched back."
Maximize your surroundings to promote good posture
There are key habits you can incorporate into your daily routine to try to improve your posture. Dr. Bohl suggests maximizing your surroundings to promote good posture. He shares, "If you're somebody who works at a desk, make sure your keyboard isn't too low, that your screen is close enough for you to read without needing to lean forward, and that you have a comfortable chair with lumbar support."
Exercise is also beneficial in improving your posture. Dr. Bohl advises, "If you work with a personal trainer, they can do an assessment to give you a targetted approach to improving your posture." Additionally, he says, "Even if you don't work with one, the key is to stretch the muscles that are overactive (e.g., the ones that round your back and pull your shoulders forward) and strengthen the muscles that are underactive (e.g., the ones that straighten your spine and pull your shoulders back)." (Note that retraining your muscles may take some time, but having great posture is totally worth the effort!)
There are plenty of devices nowadays that can help
Last but not least, Dr. Bohl goes on to explain if it's still difficult for you to maintain good posture, there are plenty of devices on the market nowadays that can help out. "Many of these devices can be worn discreetly under your clothing, and they help in various ways, such as by holding your shoulders back or resting on your spine and gently vibrating (as a reminder to sit up straight) every time you accidentally slouch," he says.
Be mindful of prolonged pain or feeling so stiff that it's challenging to stop slouching
It's important to be mindful of experiencing pain for an extended period of time or feeling so stiff that it's really challenging to stop slouching. It's also time to see the help of a medical professional if you develop tingling, numbness, or pain that stretches down your legs and/or arms, as symptoms such as these can indicate pinched nerves.