What’s so bad about bad posture?

Posted on 1 April 2015

You don’t need a doctor to tell you that slouching is bad for your back. But does it have any other harmful effects on your body? And is there anything you can do to improve your posture? Mediclinic Bloemfontein biokineticist Stefan Uys has the answers.

1. Apart from spinal problems, what are the other negative effects of bad posture?
‘As a biokineticist, I look at the thoracic effects of bad posture. And I can say that it plays a huge – and negative – role in your body’s heart/lung capacity. Bad posture puts added pressure on your diaphragm, which can do long-term damage to your body’s metabolic function and its oxygen supply.’

2. So what can I do about it?
‘Tuck in your belly button! Stand up straight. There’s a simple exercise I recommend for sales reps, who are out all day on the road, sitting in their cars. I call it the “Red Robot Exercise”. When you’re driving, whenever you stop at a red traffic light, remember to sit up straight in your car seat and tuck in your belly button. Just doing that will help greatly. If you’re not driving – say, for example, you’re sitting at your desk – set yourself a landmark of some kind and use it as a reminder to activate your core.’

3. Can you recommend any simple exercises to help improve my posture?
‘A simple isometric core exercise like the plank – or abdominal bridge – will help. Here you hold a push-up position, with your body’s weight resting on your elbows, forearms and toes. This move will help you activate your transverse oblique muscles, and will build a good relationship between your back muscles and your abdominal muscles. It’s very effective in increasing your body’s core strength, which will enhance your posture as well. Just make sure you do it correctly. I often see guys doing what they think is a plank, but their backside is either too high or too low, and their spine isn’t aligned correctly. The correct form is very important. Get it wrong and you won’t get the full benefit of the exercise… and you could hurt yourself.’

The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Exercise

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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