can reduce lung capacity up to 30%.
Source: Ford's 2016 Trends Report: Informate Mobile Intelligence.
concern is that if you look at many many young people today,
they appear to be in the early stages of kyphosis caused by
looking down at their cell phones and having their computer
screen lower that eye-level when sitting up straight. We
believe the condition is reversible before it requires a
brace or surgery. However,
we've provided a variety of opinions on the subject as well
as the medical discussiojn from the Myoa Clinic and Kids
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several causes for this condition. The most relevant to young people are: Scheuermann's disease which typically begins during the growth spurt that occurs before puberty. Boys are affected more often than are girls. And Tech Neck (postural kyphosis) or slouching. This condition doesn't involve any deformities in the spine and is most common among teenagers.
It has long been recognized that our reliance on computers and cell phone is affecting our bodies, hence the boom in ergonomic seating and guidelines on how best to position the screens to try to minimize the negative impact of sitting in the same position for hours.
Sitting in front of a computer screen also tightens the middle of the back, which means less flexibility and more danger of strain. Moreover, as the ribs also attach to the spine, stiffness in this area makes it harder to take deep breaths.
Laptops and iPads are even worse, especially if you use them while slouched on the sofa.
Some types of Tech Neck can be helped by:
Relaxed, straight sitting - Keep the core strong, shoulder blades active but not tight and spine erect with an expanded chest. It positively influences the body and mind by lifting confidence and self-esteem, and giving an energy and stamina boost. Standing or sitting straight can also rectify decreased energy and feelings of depression and stress, help build resilience and lift the mood. It optimizes oxygen intake to the body and brain by about 30 percent.
Exercise - Stretching can improve spinal flexibility and relieve back pain. Exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles may help improve posture.
Healthy lifestyle - Maintaining a healthy body weight and regular physical activity will help prevent back pain and relieve back symptoms from kyphosis
Maintain good bone density. Proper diet with calcium and vitamin D and screening for low bone density.
Bracing - Children who have Scheuermann's disease may be able to stop the progression by wearing a body brace while their bones are still growing.
It's not as though slouching will give your child a hunchback in a day, but if they slouch day after day, and their muscles are not strong, the whole skeleton will change. The bottom line: How they sit is less important than how long they sit. Get up at least a couple of times an hour and walk, move, even while talking on the phone. If they cannot walk, at least stand.
When to see a doctor - Make an appointment if you notice an increased curve in your child's upper back or spine. The individual bones (vertebrae) that make up a healthy spine look like cylinders stacked in a column. Tech Neck occurs when the vertebrae in the upper back become more wedge-shaped.
Age-related kyphosis often occurs after osteoporosis weakens spinal bones to the point that they crack and compress. Other types of kyphosis are seen in infants or teens due to malformation of the spine or wedging of the spinal bones over time.
Mild kyphosis causes few problems, but severe cases can cause pain and be disfiguring. Treatment for kyphosis depends on your age, the cause of the curvature and its effects.
In addition to an abnormally curved spine, kyphosis can also cause back pain and stiffness in some people. Mild cases of kyphosis may produce no noticeable signs or symptoms.
When to see a doctor - Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice an increased curve in your upper back or in your child's spine.
The individual bones (vertebrae) that make up a healthy spine look like cylinders stacked in a column. Kyphosis occurs when the vertebrae in the upper back become more wedge-shaped. This deformity can be caused by a variety of problems, including:
An increased curve in the upper spine also can be caused by slouching. Called postural kyphosis, this condition doesn't involve any deformities in the spine. It's most common in teenagers.
Kyphosis may cause the following complications:
If you or your child has signs or symptoms common to kyphosis, make an appointment with your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of spine disorders.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your height and may ask you to bend forward from the waist while he or she views the spine from the side. With kyphosis, the rounding of the upper back may become more obvious in this position. Your doctor might also perform a neurological exam to check your reflexes and muscle strength.
Depending upon your signs and symptoms, you may need:
If you are experiencing any numbness or muscle weakness, your doctor may recommend several tests that can determine how well nerve impulses are traveling between your spinal cord and your extremities.
Kyphosis treatment depends on the cause of the condition and the signs and symptoms that are present.
Your doctor may suggest:
Some types of kyphosis can be helped by:
Surgical and other procedures
If the kyphosis curve is very severe or if the curve is pinching the spinal cord or nerve roots, your doctor might suggest surgery to reduce the degree of curvature.
The most common procedure, called spinal fusion, connects two or more of the affected vertebrae permanently. Surgeons insert pieces of bone between the vertebrae and then fasten the vertebrae together with metal rods and screws until the spine heals together in a corrected position.
1. Frontera WR, et al. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 11, 2013.
2. Kyphosis (roundback) of the spine. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00423. Accessed April 10, 2012.
3. Kado DM. Overview of hyperkyphosis in older persons. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 11, 2013.
4. Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 11, 2013.
5. Canale ST, et al. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1584/0.html. Accessed July 11, 2013.
6. Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed July 11, 2013.
7. Larson AN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2013.
8. Wybier M, et al. Musculoskeletal imaging in progress: The EOS imaging system. Joint Bone Spine. 2013;80:238.
9. Six years and more than 60 lifesized anatomic models to help plan complex surgeries. Mayo Clinic. http://newsletters.mayo.edu/newscenter/Article.aspx?contentID=DOCMAN-0000157800. Accessed Jan. 7, 2014.
10. Golden AK. Decision Support
System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 5, 2013
For someone with kyphosis, which is sometimes called roundback or hunchback, the spine is curved too much, and it can cause discomfort or make it harder to breathe.
Usually, kyphosis doesn't lead to any problems and nothing needs to be done about it. But sometimes it can be serious enough that someone has to wear a back brace or have an operation.
What Is Kyphosis?
Kyphosis (say: ki-FO-sis) gets its name from a Greek word for bending forward, and that's what kyphosis is: too much forward bending, or rounding, of the spine. It's a fairly common condition for kids and grownups alike.
Your backbone isn't really a bone at all. It's many little bones, called vertebrae, all stacked up and held together by ligaments. The vertebrae in the middle and upper part of your back are attached to your ribs. These are the ones that are curved forward too much when someone has kyphosis.
There are different types of kyphosis that affect kids, and each has its own cause:
Postural kyphosis is the most common type of kyphosis, and it's rarely a problem. It's more common among girls than boys, and it happens when bones and muscles develop in an abnormal way as they grow, possibly because of slouching or poor posture. Kids may start to notice this kind of kyphosis as they get closer to being teenagers.
Scheuermann's kyphosis (named for a Danish doctor) also usually shows up as you get closer to your teen years. It causes vertebrae to look like wedges instead of rectangles when they're viewed from the side on X-rays. Scheuermann's kyphosis is slightly more common among boys than girls and can run in families.
Congenital kyphosis happens when the spine develops abnormally while a baby is still in its mother's womb. Several vertebrae can be fused together, or the bones can form improperly.
How Do Kids Find Out if They Have Kyphosis?
Sometimes kyphosis will be easy to see. A person with kyphosis might have a hump or have a back that looks more rounded than it should. Other cases of kyphosis will be harder to notice and may not be visible at all.
To check for kyphosis, a doctor will examine your spine and might ask you to do an easy test called the forward-bending test. It doesn't hurt, and all you have to do is bend forward at the waist. Often, kyphosis is easier to see when the back is bent this way. The doctor might also ask you to lie down, which can help with diagnosing postural kyphosis.
If it looks like you might have kyphosis, the doctor will order a set of X-rays to be taken of your spine. Looking at the X-rays can help a doctor determine which type of kyphosis you have.
To check if the kyphosis is affecting your breathing, the doctor may ask you to breathe while listening to your lungs. In some cases, if the doctor thinks kyphosis isn't the problem, he or she may call for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of your back.
What if I Have it?
If it turns out that you have kyphosis, the doctor and your parent can talk about what to do next. If it seems like the rounding of your back isn't going to cause any problems, you may not need any treatment. You'll still have to get checkups until you're fully grown to make sure your back isn't curving more, but after that, kyphosis usually stops progressing.
In some cases, the doctor may send you to an orthopedist (say: OR-tho-pee-dist), a back specialist who will examine your spine to determine the extent of your kyphosis and figure out what caused it.
With postural kyphosis, the doctor may prescribe physical therapy and strength training. Strong muscles are better at holding the spine in place. Sometimes an orthopedist will even suggest a firmer bed or lessons in good posture.
With Scheuermann's kyphosis, the orthopedist may recommend a brace to help support your back and keep the kyphosis from getting worse as your bones grow. In some severe cases, kyphosis has to be treated with an operation.
Treating Kyphosis With Braces
A brace can keep kyphosis from getting worse and support a person's back while he or she is growing, but it can't permanently fix kyphosis. The orthopedist will talk with you and your parent about what kind of brace will work best for you. Some braces are only worn at night. Others are meant to be worn day and night.
Doctors are making better braces for kids all the time. Braces keep getting lighter, more comfortable, and easier to wear. If you do have to wear a brace, it's important to wear it the way you're supposed to. Otherwise it won't work as well as it should.
After your spine is done growing, the kyphosis probably won't be a cause for concern and you won't have to wear a brace anymore.
Treating Kyphosis With Surgery
Most of the time, a brace will be enough to treat kyphosis. But somebody might need an operation for a severe case or for congenital kyphosis. Usually, it will be a surgery known as a spinal fusion. In this procedure, two or more of the affected vertebrae are fused, or joined together, to reduce the amount of rounding in the spine.
A kid having a back operation like this would be given anesthesia, a kind of medicine that puts patients to sleep and keeps them from feeling pain during an operation. Then the surgeon would attach new pieces of bone to the vertebrae by using metal rods and screws, placed deep under the spine muscles to correct the kyphosis. After a few months to a year, the bones grow together, or "fuse."
Once the bones have healed, the metal pieces aren't needed anymore, but they're not hurting anything. It would take another operation to get them out, so doctors usually leave them in place.
Years ago, before doctors started using metal rods, kids had to spend up to a year in a body cast as they recovered from spinal fusion. With modern surgery, kids can still move around as they recover. In fact, doctors often prescribe physical therapy as part of the recovery.
Every situation is different, but most kids who've had surgery to correct their kyphosis are up and walking within a day or two, and they can generally go home from the hospital within a week. Most will return to school within a month of the surgery and can resume some activities in 3 to 4 months.
By 6 to 12 months, most kids will be able to resume all routine activities, and the bones should be fully fused by about 1 year. It's important for kids who have had surgery to talk with their parents and the doctor about what activities are right for them as their backs heal.
Kids with kyphosis can lead active,
normal lives and usually won't have any restrictions placed
on them. Sports and activities don't make kyphosis worse, so
even after surgery it's OK for kids to get out and play once
they've talked with the doctor and a parent about how to
No, constant texting
won't turn you into a hunchback
For years, stories have appeared online warning about the bodily harm associated with compulsively bending one's neck downward to look at their phone. Many of these articles cite warnings from the United Chiropractic Association, which says that frequent texting can result in hyperkyphosisa severe curvature of the spine that leads to increased mortality rates.
But recently, Harriet Hall of the blog Science-Based Medicine refuted the claims of the UCA. Though hyperkyphosis can do very real harmparticularly in the elderlyHall argues that the link between this pronounced form of spinal disfiguration and texting has not been conclusively proven.
First, a quick crash course in chiropractic medicine. Kyphosis is a condition involving an "exaggeration of the natural curvature of the spine." This malady becomes hyperkyphosis when this bend exceeds 45 degrees.
A recent Telegraph article positing the spinal dangers of texting notes that hyperkyphosis has been shown to increase mortality rates by 1.44 times. That's roughly the same increase in the likelihood of death caused by obesity.
"Chiropractors have said a lot of silly things, but this ranks right up there among the silliest," Hall writes. "They are just making stuff up and using scaremongering as a practice-building technique."
Hall, a former family physician and Air Force flight surgeon who has written prolifically to debunk bad medical advice, says the idea that cellphone use could lead to irreparable spine damage is akin to the old wives tale that crossing one's eyes can become a permanent condition.
Like most myths, there is a kernel of truth to this one, Hall says. Texting can lead to a mild form of kyphosis, so mild in fact that it's what you or I might call mere slouching. And although slouching can cause some temporary muscle pain, it's certainly not life threatening or irreversible.
The more severe hyperkyphosis condition (which would manifest itself like the Hunchback of Notre Dame), is usually caused by more dramatic factors. It's often found in older people, particularly women, as a result of osteoporosis causing actual deterioration of vertebrae. In younger people, it's usually the result of some kind of physical accident or birth defect.
"Remember when Mom told you not to cross your eyes because they might get stuck and stay that way permanently?" Hall writes. "Of course that can't really happen; and no amount of hunching over a cellphone is going to produce a permanent hyperkyphosis either."
So to put things in perspective, when
it comes to cellphone use, you should be much more wary of
the impact it has on your ability to pay attention rather
than your posture. Though it's still a relatively rare
occurrence, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
found that in 2011, more than 1,150 pedestrians went to the
emergency room as a result of injuries they suffered while
texting and walking. And recently, researchers at Cohen
Children's Medical Center in New York found that fatalities
related to texting while driving have eclipsed drunk driving
deaths among teens.
Whether they are choosing a song on their iPod, tapping out a text message on their phone or checking an email on their Blackberry, you're more likely to see the top of their head than their eyes.
New technology might make communication easier but is it turning us into hunchbacks? In a word "Yes", says Kirsten Lord, managing director of the Edinburgh Physiotherapy Centre and a chartered physiotherapist.
'Our bodies are a product of what we do on a daily basis and the change in lifestyles is definitely changing our bodies." she says.
"If you're constantly looking down, you develop a forward curvature that rounds the whole spine.
"Your shoulders come forward and become more rounded, and standing upright and lengthening the neck may feel abnormal because the muscles you need to use have become shortened through lack of use."
'Kirsten explains that, in the past, the most common complaint that physiotherapists saw related to the lower back, but over the past five years that's been superseded by problems with the neck. She has no doubt that in a lot of cases that's down to the technology we use.
It's long been recognised that our reliance on computers is affecting our bodies, hence the boom in ergonomic seating and guidelines on how best to position our screens to try to minimise the negative impact of sitting in the same position for hours.
Despite this, physiotherapists regularly see people whose bodies are affected by the way they work. A personal trainer once told me that like everyone he knew who worked in an office, I had "computer neck."
Years of jutting my chin forward to look at a computer screen meant that had become the natural position of my neck. It didn't sound terribly attractive, but I wasn't in any pain.
But it seems I was one of the lucky ones. "Jutting your neck forward can squash the top of your spine," says Kirsten. "The nerves can get compressed leading to headaches that get worse throughout the day."
And that's not the only problem.
"Sitting in front of a computer screen also tightens up the middle of the back, which means less flexibility and more danger of strain. Moreover, as the ribs also attach to the spine, stiffness in this area makes it harder to take deep breaths.
Laptops are even worse, especially if you use them without a stand while slouched on the sofa. And the boom in iPads also spells trouble.
"Laptops and tablet computers seem to hold our attention for far longer than books and magazines," says Kristen.
"So while you might think you're just looking at a screen, the length of time you're doing it for and the fact that keyboards, phones and tablets require tiny movements that can lead to problems such as repetitive strain injury mean they have a far more negative impact on the body."
So besides using laptop stands and hands-free kits so we're not cricking our necks to hold a phone against our ear, what can we do to stop ourselves from becoming a nation of twisted hunchbacks?
One in ten people is believed to have had an accident while texting and walking. Kirsten thinks there's no point fighting technology. "Trying to stop people from using their phones or computers simply isn't practical, but besides trying to ensure you're using them in as body-friendly a way as possible, what you can do is take breaks so you can use the muscles and joints in a more natural way."
She suggests standing up regularly and lengthening your neck by imagining a string pulling you up from the middle of your head. At the same time, try squeezing your buttocks to help re-engage the muscles.
Kirsten also recommends sitting on a static chair, putting your hands behind your neck and gently leaning backwards so you're arching in the opposite direction to the one you've been sitting in all day.
It might sound like a lot of hassle,
but ignoring the problem will only store up pain for the
future. "We're using technology from a far younger age,"
says Kirsten. "Forcing our bodies to work in an unnatural
way for years on end is going to catch up with us."
Mobile Phone Usage Leads to Hunchback
Despite make communication easier, the new technology has exposed us to a gamut of upper back-related problems, especially the neck area.
"If you're constantly looking down, you develop a forward curvature that rounds the whole spine," the Daily Mail quoted Kirsten Lord, managing director of the Edinburgh Physiotherapy Centre and a chartered physiotherapist as saying.
"Your shoulders come forward and become more rounded, and standing upright and lengthening the neck may feel abnormal because the muscles you need to use have become shortened through lack of use," she explained.
It has long been recognised that over reliance on computers is affecting body postures.
"Sitting in front of a computer screen also tightens up the middle of the back, which means less flexibility and more danger of strain. Moreover, as the ribs also attach to the spine, stiffness in this area makes it harder to take deep breaths," Kirsten added.
Another potential danger to the
posture comes from looking down at a laptop for long hours.
It is worse if it is used without a stand while slouched on
Ill confess up front: I have terrible posture. Its been bad since I was in high school at least, and probably for even longer than that. Its one of those things I keep in the back of my mind as something I know I should do, but never get around to, like eating more vegetables and sending more postcards.
To Sit Or Not To Sit?
Its really interesting to explore commonly held assumptions for Buffer blog, because I often find out surprising things. Researching how our posture affects us was no different. If youre like me and struggle to sit up straight when you know you should, you might like this post.
Weve talked extensively about body language before. But this time, we wanted to take a different drift. The way we stand, sit, and walk actually has more long-reaching implications on our mood and happiness than we thought. The latest studies reveal it:
Shaking your head will affect your opinion and other surprising new insights on posture.
Body language is closely related to posturethe way we move our bodies affects how others see us as well as our own moods and habits. In terms of scientific research, the two overlap quite a bit. This isnt too surprising, but how our posture and body language affect our thoughts is.
For instance, a study at Ohio State University in 2003 found that our opinions can be subsconsciously influenced by our physical behavior. Here are two fascinating examples:
When participants in the study nodded in agreement or shook their heads to signal disagreement, these actions affected their opinions without them realizing.
¦The same study also showed that when participants hugged themselves, they were sometimes able to reduce their physical pain.
Dutch behavioral scientist Erik Peper has done extensive research into this area as well. He regularly makes participants in his classes stand up and stretch for similar reasons why exercise has been linked to happiness, like here:
Here are three fascinating things that happened once our posture changes:
1.For example, when we sit up straight, we are more likely to remember positive memories or think of something positive in general, according to this experiment.
2.Another insight was that if we skip during breaks, we can significantly increase our energy levels. A slow, slumped walk on the other hand, can do the exact opposite and drain us of our energy. (source)
3.The study also found that those who were most affected by depression before the study found their energy drained more than others.
So Erik Peper is convinced (and I am, too) that we should keep a careful eye on our posture and body languagelest it bring us down without us realizing.
Posture also changes our hormones: Standing tall literally makes you more powerful.
When we talk more broadly of body language, as opposed to good posture, we can actually see the affects it has on relationships right throughout the animal kingdom. In particular, body language is used to express power through expansive postures (i.e., spreading out your limbs and opening up your body) and large body size (or the simple perception of large body size).
You might know about Amy Cuddys famous Ted Talk and her incredible insights on how posture changes our hormone levels. Well, some more recent studies took this even further:
A study by researchers from Columbia and Harvard Universities showed that body language symbolizing power can actually affect our decision-making subconsciously. The researchers measured the appetite for risk of participants in either expansive, powerful poses or constricted poses (occupying minimal space, keeping limbs close to the body). Those in the powerful poses not only felt more powerful and in control, but were 45% more likely to take a risky bet.
Plus, the study used saliva samples to prove that expansive postures actually altered the participants hormone levelsdecreasing cortisol (C) and increasing testosterone (T):
This neuroendocrine profile of High T and Low C has been consistently linked to such outcomes as disease resistance and leadership abilities.
So clearly, our posture has more to do with our minds than we might have thought. And, in fact, it seems like our bodies come first: When we alter our posture and body language, it subconsciously influences our thinking and decision-making.
Why there is no "one best" posture and how to improve yours
So if you want to take advantage of these proven benefits to live a healthier and happier life, where should you start? We know there are many parts of the body that can be painful when we have bad posture. Heres just a short list of them:
Unfortunately theres not a whole lot of research into how exactly to adopt good posturea lot of what we know tends to come from being told to "sit up straight" as children. A study in 1999, however, found that sitting at an angle of 110 to 130 degrees is optimal for spine comfort, and another in 2007 showed that leaning back at 135 degrees is ideal for preventing back strain.
Not only is a position like this difficult to measure and maintain (do you know precisely what angle youre sitting at right now?), not everyone agrees.
The team at LUMOback has created a posture sensor that you can wear around your waist during the day to help you develop better posture. The device watches for slouching and shifting to the side and vibrates to remind you to sit up straight.
The team, which includes a doctor and a data scientist (as well as a medical adviser), doesnt advise the leaning-back position for your workday. Instead, they maintain firstly that "the best posture is always the next posture," or in other words, always keep moving:
We know that many of us have jobs that do require us to spend time working at desks, so knowing how to sit and stand with good posture is certainly important and beneficial to ones health and well-being. That said, the human body was built to move, not spend eight hours at a computer.
While many of the apps and devices designed to track our daily activity focus on workouts and regular exercise routines, LUMOback is more focused on small, regular bursts of movement:
Walking around helps your body to reset itself into healthy posture, so make a point to get up from your desk at least twice an hour.
When it actually comes to posture, the LUMOback team recommends a neutral pelvic postion (i.e., sitting up straight). They promote this posture particularly for times when were sedentary for long periods, like sitting at our desks all day:
When you maintain a neutral pelvic position with a straight and upright back, the vertebrae in your back are nicely aligned. This takes a lot of pressure off of your spine and back muscles, which can reduce back pain.
Heres an image from the study that promotes leaning back at 135º:
As the LUMOback team points out, while this is beneficial for your lower back (if you manage to keep it straight), your upper back and neck will suffer if you try to maintain this position while working.
In an office setting, youre likely to have to crane your neck to see your computer screen and strain your upper back and shoulders to reach a keyboard. Thus, any potential lower-back benefits of a reclined position are outweighed by the negative impacts on your upper back and neck.
For now, Im going to give sitting up straight a go. If nothing else, at least I know it will probably put me in a good mood!
P.S.: If you liked this post, you might also like Why procrastination doesnt need a cure: A guide to structured distraction and How To Make Positivity a Habit: 4 Simple Steps to a Happier Everyday Life.
Belle Beth Cooper is a Content Crafter at Buffer and Co-founder of Hello Code. Follow her on Twitter at @BelleBethCooper.
This post originally appeared on
Buffer, and is reprinted with permission.
Yep, just like your mother always told you. But there really are benefits to practicing good posture -- and they extend far beyond how much better you look in the mirror. Below are six ways straightening your stance positively influences your body and mind. Simple? Yes. Effective? Definitely.
Good posture can lift your confidence.
When it comes to our own qualifications, we're usually the first ones to count ourselves out -- however, that may be remedied with a simple adjustment in our stance. Research suggests that when we exercise proper posture, we tend to have a little more self-esteem and believe in our own assets more than when we're slouching. Big work presentations and first dates have nothing on you.
It may give you an energy boost.
We've all fallen victim to that afternoon slump -- but before you down your third cup of coffee, check how you're sitting. A little stretch and adjustment to your posture may help give you the stamina boost you so desperately need when 3 p.m. rolls around. According to research published in the journal Biofeedback, standing or sitting straight can also rectify decreased energy and feelings of depression that come with poor posture.
It can help reduce your stress.
An improved posture can also help build your resilience to deadlines and to-do lists. A recent study published in Health Psychology found that sitting straight when you're strung out can cut out those negative emotions. Additionally, a straighter stance can also lift your mood. So long, stress.
Sitting up straight may lower your fear.
In the same study, researchers also found that participants who weren't slouching reported lower feelings of fear and more positive emotions. Next time you have a big interview, square those shoulders -- and kick your worries to the curb.
It could make you more productive at work.
Powering through those tasks may be as simple as fixing the way you're sitting. Proper posture allows your body to expand and signals to your brain that you're in a stance of power, which then increases testosterone and leads to a productivity boost, Entrepreneur reported. "The amount of change that you see in testosterone when power poses are engaged is like when you win a game," Dana Carney, cognitive psychologist and assistant professor at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, told the magazine. "The magnitude of the change is the same."
It helps optimize your breathing.
When you're slouched, you're
inhibiting prime air flow. Sitting up straight can increase
your oxygen intake by about 30 percent, according to Real
Simple magazine. Good posture opens your chest cavity and
allows more oxygen to enter the body and brain, contributing
to that energy boost mentioned above. Plus, more oxygen =
better breathing, which is your body's natural way of
keeping you relaxed. Doesn't that feel good?
Stop for a second and notice the way you are sitting. Back curved, shoulders slumped, maybe legs crossed? For people who spend the day staring at a computer screen, this position is fairly typical. But what is it doing to your spine, if anything? Do we need to sit up straight to focus, like that mean math teacher once insisted? Here's some straight talk from one expert, Mladen Golubic, medical director for the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute.
Degrees of Comfort
Little research has been done on the best way to sit upright. One American meta study in 1999 concluded that sitting at an angle of 110 to 130 degrees was optimal for spine comfort. A Scottish study published in 2007 found that leaning back at 135 degrees is ideal to prevent back strain. While interesting, this sort of precision may be impractical for most people, Dr. Golubic says.
Sitting to Death?
His clinic sees patients with multiple chronic illnesses. Nearly all of them sit for long periods each day. The term Sedentary Death Syndrome was coined by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2002 to address the growing consequences of a seated lifestyle. "There are studies on Sedentary Death Syndrome that show that sitting for hours can cause anything from lower back pain to high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity," he says. In other words, no matter what position you're sitting in all day, it is pretty bad for you.
The Perfect Pose
Body posture determines the efficiency of your breathing. "Relaxed, straight sitting"with the core strong, shoulder blades active but not tight and spine erect"expands your chest, allowing you to take in a larger breath and you'll have more energy and focus," Dr. Golubic says. To achieve this, sit away from the back of your chair so you don't slump, with your feet placed firmly on the ground. He sometimes sends patients home with a blue dot to put on their computer screens as a reminder to sit up straight and stretch and take a deep breath when they feel pain. There is also an app called PostureTrack that alerts users when they're slumping.
Slump to a Hump
It's not as though slouching will give you a hunchback in a day, but "if you do this day after day, and your muscles are not strong, the whole skeleton changes," Dr. Golubic says. "I'm not aware of any studies that look at the changes in the volume of organs like the liver and spleen when you sit straight or slump forward. But we do know that when you slouch, you project an attitude of depression and low motivation." When you sit up straight, he adds, "psychologically, your attitude is better."
If you're not used to sitting up straight, you may feel lower back painan indicator that you need to strengthen your core and work on general fitness. Dr. Golubic almost always advises his patients to start yoga: "The first thing we learn in yoga is how to sit properly."
Walk, Don't Sit
The bottom line: How you sit is less
important than how long you sit, Dr. Golubic says. He tries
to get up from his desk often, doing "walking meetings" with
colleagues and taking phone calls outdoors. "If you cannot
walk," he says, "At least stand."