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What are the consequences of poor posture?

Poor posture will alter your neuromusclar system. Your neuromuscular system will automatically select overactive, tight muscles to produce movement. This is called reciprocal inhibition and synergistic dominance. For example, while sitting at your desk, your hip flexor muscle may become tight. This will cause a decrease in neural activity in your glute max, the prime muscle mover, which leads to compensation by the synergists and stabilizer muscles, the hamstrings and low back muscle.

Once this alteration occurs, it starts a never-ending injury cycle. Tight muscles and weak muscles will alter joint kinematics, which leads to faulty movement patterns, which then leads to injury and trips to the ER, time on the disabled and worker's comp list, and unfinished projects around the house.

Consequences of poor posture can sometimes be seen visually and sometimes be felt within the body. When a person has continually bad posture the body conforms to the way it is being held. This leads to certain muscles being in a stretched position for long periods of time and also the opposite muscles being in a shortened position for long periods of time.

For example,

Commonly seen in desk jobs many people have a forward head position, the head protrudes in front of the shoulders, and a rounded upper back. When they walk or sit down their upper back is rounded forward and their head is jutted forward.

The cause of the rounded shoulders and forward head is in response to the continuous bad posture of sitting down all day and leaning forward to work on the computer or paperwork. When one works like this the back muscles gets stretched out, losing strength, while the chest muscles gets tight and overworked and pulls everything forward.

Also, keeping in the desk job example, one is sitting down for a majority of the day. The hip flexors get tight because they are held in a flexed position.  This could result in a rounded lower back which leads to back pain.

Mainly, the consequences of bad posture lead to an altered way of how you move. When ones posture is off the entire body has to make up for it by recruiting muscles that normally wouldn’t be the main movers (muscles) in a specific stance or movement.

If you know you have bad posture or tight muscles I highly recommend you speak with a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Not only are we trained to uncover improper postural compensations but we can put together a plan to correct bad posture through corrective exercises. Bad posture can be reversed by implementing the right exercises.

Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to weaken when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you may typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace, such as kitchen and assembly-line workers. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.