With Correct Posture Month just around the corner, the average college student may be unaware of the stresses that can be caused by slouched shoulders or a protruding neck. When it comes to posture, the actions themselves may be small but the effects are amplified and long term.
According to Chris Sherwood on livestrong.com, “Posture is the way you physically carry or hold your body.” Sherwood said the way in which one holds his posture determines how his bones and muscles align, starting from the head to the feet, and improper alignment could cause stress on the bones and muscles.
According to Sherwood, the common effects of bad posture include muscle fatigue, spine misalignment, stress on internal organs and pain on the skeletal structure. Apart from these long-term effects, there are less known effects that occur in our everyday lives. One’s posture is the first indication of body language.
“Our posture determines how we are being perceived by others, like whether we are engaged in class or not,” said Christina Devaney, junior in education and a group fitness trainer at the K-State Recreation Center. “In the long term, it will become a habit and turn into a lifestyle.”
According to Sherwood, poor posture can result in spinal discs being compressed out of alignment and exerting pressure on the spine, causing pain and restricting movement in certain limbs. There might be other effects depending which nerves the discs depress. Good posture will always transfer body weight onto the right muscles and in the right amounts. On the other hand, poor posture might add more stress on certain muscles causing them to fatigue.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, bad posture invariably causes stress on the neck and back muscles and the spine. This can result in pain, pinched nerves in the spine, and pulled muscles, ligaments and tendons. Poor posture can also cause pain in other parts of the body, and muscle stress may also lead to tension headaches.
Bad posture and its effects could result from the simplest of things one does in everyday life.
“It could start from having heavy backpacks, or not having proper shoes or the over- or underuse of certain muscle groups and not sitting up straight,” said Devaney. The long-term impact of bad posture would be the deformation of the spinal cord from its normal “S” shape to an abnormal “C” shape.
Improving one’s posture is not very hard, said Devaney. It can be done by following simple steps and being consistent.
“Being aware of one’s posture at all times, keeping one’s core engaged at all times and putting in a conscious effort,” said Devaney. The abdominal muscles play a vital role in holding the spinal cord erect and the core engaged.
Maureen Kerrigan, microbiologist at the School of Veterinary Medicine, said the same backpack that makes the shoulders slouch can also help fix one’s posture.
“I always advise my students to wear their backpacks squeezing the shoulder blades together such that they weigh their shoulders down the right way, transferring the load onto the lats and hence straightening the spine,” Kerrigan said.