Clumsy? Grumpy? THIS Could Be Why..
It can be difficult to be mindful of posture. And you might not even be aware of where you stand on the good/bad posture spectrum. Right now, are you leaning forward, craning your neck to look at the screen? Or are you sitting upright? Maybe somewhere in the middle? In this article we will go over what constitutes good posture and the research that shows why you should strive to maintain it.
Why Do We Slouch?
If you do have poor posture, don’t feel so bad. It isn’t always due to a bad habit of slouching. Sometimes there are physical reasons for it that your body does on its own.
For example, tight muscles in the hips or chest can pull your body and shoulders forward. Also, having particular muscles that are weak – such as core muscles or leg muscles – can make it easier for your body to default into a slouching position. 
However, slouching may have consequences. We slouch because it feels more relaxing and comfortable, even though it can actually contribute to long-term damage.
See, your head is heavy. It’s kind of like a bowling ball on a stick. This is why we have the support – the spine and surrounding muscles – to hold it up in good form. But when we have our heads forward, unnecessary stress is put on the neck and back muscles. Eventually, this wears them out, possibly leading to tissue damage. Studies have revealed that poor posture results in chronic pain of the neck, shoulders, and back – and that proper posture can help alleviate this pain. [2-4]
On top of that, researchers have found an array of negative effects linked to bad posture that one may not even consider.
Here are some examples…
Proper Posture And Cognitive Function
Your posture can affect more than you think. For example, how you think:
In one study, a team of researchers looked at 160 older adults and found associations between posture and cognitive function. Those with better posture were found to have increased memory and other cognitive processes over those who had poor posture. And it’s worth noting that those with poor posture also had less mobility and reported lower quality of life. 
Having poor posture affects your cardiovascular system as well. One study observed more stress in the cardiovascular system in those not standing or sitting up straight. A similar study also found that those with poor posture had increased blood pressure and heart rate.
When your body isn’t positioned the way it’s built to be, pressure can be applied to pathways, putting unneeded stress on the heart. [6-7]
Posture And Emotions
You may have heard before that tall people tend to be more successful. But could it just be that they seem taller due to their stance? Because science has shown that those who stand and sit up straight are more confident. 
A direct link has also been found between posture and other emotions – specifically that those with negative emotions, such as anger, have an increased inclination of the shoulders, protrusion of the head, and hyperextension of the knees. 
Another study found that those with bad posture were more likely to be in a negative mood, and those with proper posture recovered faster from a poor emotional state. 
Proprioception or kinaesthesia is the sense of self movement or body position. Proprioception allows you to move freely without having to be fully conscious of every aspect of your body at all times. Disrupting this can lead to poor balance, improper movement coordination, clumsiness, and difficulty recognizing your own strength.
Researchers have found that those with forward head posture – a common form of improper posture that affects millions of people – tend to have poor body position awareness. When the stance is altered from what it’s supposed to be, the proprioception is disturbed, leading to the effects mentioned in the above paragraph. [11-12]
The proper function of the respiratory system relies on many biomechanical factors that may get stressed, tightened, or weakened when the spine and neck are not in good form.
A 2016 study found that vital capacity – the maximum amount of air one can exhale from the lung after a deep breath – was significantly lower in those with improper posture. Accessory respiratory muscle activity was also lower in those with forward head posture. 
A similar study from 2018 found that respiratory function reduced significantly when subjects repositioned to a poorly postured state. 
So, What’s Good Posture…?
All of these studies may have you more inclined to not incline and to stand up straight. But what exactly does proper posture entail?
Here are some tips to keep in mind throughout the day :
– Keep feet flat on the floor.
– Level knees with hips or perhaps a bit higher.
– Sit back in the chair to support your spine.
– Relax your shoulders.
– Align ears with shoulders.
– Do not round or hunch shoulders.
– Keep computer screens at eye level so that the neck remains neutral (not stuck looking up or down).
– Relax shoulders.
– Line up neck and head with shoulders.
– Balance weight on both feet evenly, with feet about hip width apart and knees relaxed (not locked).
– Slightly tense abdominal muscles.
– Make a straight line down from the earlobe, to the shoulder, hip, and ankle.
Can The Effects Of Poor Posture Be Prevented?
Like most habits, after a while, standing up straight will likely become second nature. But many are not practicing good posture techniques early in life and are setting themselves up for possible chronic issues.
One study which looked at school children found that more than 50 percent of the students observed had postural distortion patterns. Another study which gave school children simple posture exercises twice per week saw improved posture in the students following the intervention period. [15-16]
Posture exercises, as well as an awareness of the risks, are necessary for the development as well as the maintenance of good posture. It’s also a relatively simple way to contribute to a healthy lifestyle. A proper stance helps the body function optimally, keeping you from developing any potential long-term issues.
- Harvard Medical School – Why Good Posture Matters
- University of Washington – Proper Sitting Posture
- Postural awareness and its relation to pain: validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain
- Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain
- Mobility and Upright Posture Are Associated with Different Aspects of Cognition in Older Adults
- Effects of body position on autonomic regulation of cardiovascular function in young, healthy adults
- Effect of postural changes on cardiovascular parameters across gender
- Body Posture Affects Confidence In Your Own Thoughts, Study Finds
- Angry Posture – Study
- Embodied mood regulation: the impact of body posture on mood recovery, negative thoughts, and mood-congruent recall
- Correlation between head posture and proprioceptive function in the cervical region
- Healthline – What Is Proprioception, and Why Is It so Important?
- Effects of forward head posture on forced vital capacity and respiratory muscles activity
- Effect of Different Head-Neck Postures on the Respiratory Function in Healthy Males
- Posture Disorders And Their Causes In Rural Schools Pupils
- The effects of training and detraining after an 8 month resistance and stretching training program on forward head and protracted shoulder postures in adolescents: Randomised controlled study