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5 long-term effects of bad posture (and how to prevent them)

5 long-term effects of bad posture (and how to prevent them)
3 minutes, 29 seconds

About 80% of U.S. adults suffer from bad posture, or the misalignment of the shoulder blades and neck. Bad posture has become extremely common over the last decade due to the ubiquity of handheld devices and screens. However, while using these devices, you can protect your spine health and your well-being. Maintaining proper posture is a major way you can prevent spine- and back-related injuries. On the other hand, bad posture can cause long-term damage and pain to tissue in your back. Spending long hours hunched over can put immense strain on your body, forcing it into awkward positions that can lead to chronic pain. Thankfully, treatments like physical therapy can release built-up tension and address long-term damage in your neck, shoulders, and back.

5 long-term effects of bad posture

In order to keep your body upright, your muscles across your upper back and neck have to bear your body weight. Over a long period of time, however, awkward positioning caused by slouching can cause long-term injuries like strains. Without treatment, strains can make it difficult and painful for you to turn your head and roll your shoulders.  Other long-term symptoms of bad posture can last for months and can be difficult to correct if untreated over time. Long-term effects of bad posture can include:

  • Back and neck pain — Bending over consistently can place extra weight and strain on your muscles in your neck and back. Not only can this cause pain, but it can also lead to deformities over time in which your neck and back become permanently slouched. Back and neck pain is the leading cause of disability among working adults. As a result, companies and employees alike can lose out on productivity due to bad posture.
  • Fatigue — Bad posture can cause your body to work extra hard to perform simple tasks like sitting up and standing. Since so much energy goes to these tasks, your body can quickly run out of energy for other movements. That’s why fatigue is a common long-term effect of bad posture.
  • Shallow breathing — Constantly sitting or standing in a bent position can place unnatural pressure on your lungs and rib cage. Over time, this pressure can lead to difficulty breathing and lower oxygen levels. If you experience shallow breathing, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Overall stiffness — Bad posture can build tension in the muscles surrounding stretched ligaments and tendons. Tension can also lead to inflammation and stiffness across the shoulders, neck, and back. Over time, stiffness can worsen and cause a lack of mobility.
  • Poor balance — Proper posture places the spine in a neutral position to facilitate balance. When this neutral position is skewed, the body’s center of balance can be interrupted. This can increase your risk of slips, trips, and falls while walking or lifting objects.  

How to prevent long-term effects of bad posture

  • Remind yourself to sit up straight. You can set reminders on your phone every few minutes to alert you to sit up straight while you work. Over time, sitting up straight can become your habit.
  • Make sure your desk space is ergonomically safe. Ideally, your monitor should be at eye level. You can make this happen by purchasing an adjustable desk. You can also try purchasing a stand for your laptop. Making these small changes in your environment can help prevent you from slouching or craning your neck when working at your computer for long periods of time.
  • Go to physical therapy. Physical therapy can be a great way to learn exercises and stretches that can combat poor posture habits like slouching and slumped shoulders. Physical therapists can first break up built-up tension across your shoulders through manual therapy techniques. Then, they can target your shoulder and neck muscles to build their strength, reducing your risk of developing long-term effects of bad posture.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT to avoid long-term effects from bad posture

You can prevent long-term effects related to bad posture. At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your bad posture.  Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.  Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your posture and balance.

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