Be honest: the yoga class you force yourself to attend once every blue moon isn’t doing much for your posture. The hours you spend hunched over your laptop and phone, however, are doing plenty – and none of it is good.
“Your posture – the way you hold your body when you’re sitting or standing – is the foundation for every movement your body makes and can determine how well your body adapts to the stresses on it,” says Murat Dalkilinç, a physiotherapist and TED-Ed educator.
In other words, good posture isn’t something your mother wanted at the dinner table just because it’s polite – it’s also essential for your health and wellbeing.
In a video for TED-Ed, Dalkilinç lays out the extensive list of damages caused by slouching. Bad posture forces your muscles to work harder, causing some to tighten and others to be inhibited, and inflicts extra wear and tear on your joints and ligaments. It has been linked to scoliosis, tension headaches, and back pain. It even makes some of your organs less efficient. Your lungs, like your mother, would prefer that you sat up straight.
To improve your stance, Dalkilinç recommends adjusting your computer screen so it’s at, or slightly below, eye level. All parts of your body should be supported when you’re at your desk (don’t forget the elbows and wrists, which are often left out). Try sleeping on your side with your neck supported and a pillow between your legs to hold your spine in ideal alignment.
That’s the easy stuff. Some aspects of good posture are less obvious. “Keeping your muscles and joints moving is extremely important,” cautions Dalkilinç. “In fact, being stationary for long periods with good posture can be worse than regular movement with bad posture.”
To learn more about what good posture looks like, how to get it, and what happens if you don’t, watch Dalkilinç’s TED-Ed video above. Your slouching habit is just one of the Bad Body Language Habits You Need To Break ASAP.