As a kid, you were probably told by a teacher or parent that you should “stop slouching.” It turns out that’s excellent advice. Bad postures like slouching or hunching forward can do serious damage over time. During the pandemic, many people found themselves working from home in less than ideal conditions. We also found ourselves glued to screens more than ever before. As a result, back and neck problems resulting from bad posture are at an all-time high.

Here’s more about why lousy posture harms your health and what you can do to fix it.

The Dangers of Bad Posture

Many of us are guilty of hunching over our computers, staring down at our phones, and slouching in front of our televisions. While occasional lapses won’t do any serious harm, practicing these postures regularly damages your back and neck. Some people stand with bad posture, but even those who stand up straight can struggle when sitting. It’s easy to get involved in checking your email or staring at youtube and not realize that you’re doing horrendous things to your spine.

For every inch you tilt your head forward, you’re putting 10 lbs more pressure on your spine. That weight strains your vertebrae, stretches nerve roots, and can cause your spinal cord to pull on your brainstem. Looking down for a prolonged period also shortens and strains muscles, as does hunching forward with your shoulders. Hunching forward frequently causes small tears in your upper back muscles. These tears are repaired with scar tissue and can form adhesions or become stiff. Years of accrued damage can cause chronic pain and stiffness.

It’s not just your upper back that’s at risk. Sitting without lumbar support or standing for a long period (especially without proper foot support) can cause strain on the lumbar spine (lower back) and the muscles around it.

Symptoms of back or neck problems caused by bad posture include frequent headaches, shoulder pain, back pain or stiffness, and tingling or numbness in the extremities.

Get Screened

So how do you know if your posture is problematic? The best way to find out is to make an appointment with your chiropractor for a screening. They can evaluate your posture using physical examination and x-rays and determine what muscle groups need to be strengthened to correct your posture. Your chiropractor can also identify damage caused by your posture and help you fix it. If you weren’t screened for scoliosis as a child, it’s important to be evaluated now. Cases of mild, undiagnosed scoliosis can sometimes be mistaken for posture problems.

Corrective Exercises

Once you know that you have a posture problem, you’ll need to fix it. Often bad posture is caused or exacerbated by weak muscle groups. The posture itself can cause self-perpetuating issues like tightening some soft tissues and over-stretching others. This sets the body up to keep assuming the harmful posture. Your chiropractor can guide you through stretches and exercises that will help your specific problem areas.

Typically patients will perform these exercises at home on a daily basis and check in at their chiropractor’s office to see how they are progressing. It’s important to do your exercises and stretches as assigned. Your body didn’t develop posture issues overnight, and it takes some time and dedication to fix them. The result will be well worth it. You’ll experience fewer headaches, less pain, and an increased range of motion. Fixing your posture now can help you avoid even more serious complications down the road, like premature spinal degeneration, Kyphosis (a hump in the upper back), and mobility problems.

Repair Damage

You are probably reading this article because you already feel discomfort associated with bad posture. Frequent headaches, neck and shoulder stiffness, and back pain are signs of damage. While you work to correct your posture, you’ll also need to treat the damage already done. If the curve of your cervical spine is out of whack, it will be difficult to hold your neck in a neutral position. Treatments like spinal adjustment and spinal decompression therapy can realign the spine and take pressure off nerves. Your corrective exercises will also assist with correcting spinal curvature. Massage therapy can be helpful for people dealing with knots, trigger points, and extremely tight muscles. Massage can break up scar tissue and knots and help muscles relax and heal. Tight muscles will continue pulling the spine out of alignment, so it’s important to treat both the muscles and the spine.

Try Gadgets

Part of your “homework” while you heal, will be to avoid lapsing into your bad postures. While you wait for your corrective exercises to make this easier, some gadgets can help. Simple things like ergonomic add-ons for your office that put your screen at eye level and support your lower back can improve your posture immediately. If you still find yourself hunching forward or slouching, you can try a posture corrector device that buzzes to remind you to straighten up. Don’t use posture correction braces without talking to your chiropractor first. These devices can sometimes do more harm than good as they don’t require your muscles to work to hold a proper posture. Still, some people may benefit from using them for an hour or two a day.

With practice and professional guidance, you’ll be able to correct your posture and reap the benefits.

Posture Correction in Kentucky

At All Star Chiropractic, we provide postural screenings, corrective exercises, and treatments for back and neck pain. Schedule a consultation today to find out how you can fix your posture and heal your back.