Everyone is familiar with bad posture and how it can negatively affect the body. Slouching, hunching and fidgeting leads to back pain, an unattractive spinal curve, and even scoliosis—or does it? We’ve done a bit of research and created a list of good posture myths and realities, and you may be surprised at the results.
1. Never slouch or slump to achieve good posture.
This claim is false (we told you you’d be surprised). If you only sit or stand in a straight, usually unnatural, position, you’re not allowing your body to experience a full range of motion. Good posture supports the ability of easy, fluid movement, and flexing into a slouch gives you more freedom to easily change positions. Just make sure not to sit in that position too long, posture is about movement.
2. Crossing your legs leads to varicose veins.
False! Although this claim isn’t entirely true, it does lead to negative side effects. Crossing your legs can lead to lower back pain. And when you cross your legs it leads to increased pressure and locks your body into a fixed position.
3. Stand or sit straight to achieve good posture.
Wrong. Standing or sitting straight up to achieve proper alignment is actually doing nothing for you. It’s fixing the body in one position, without allowing room for movement. You’re familiar with the position: shoulders pushed back at attention, spine overly extended, and the face contorted into apparent discomfort. Posture is dynamic, so you can be ready to move in any direction at a moment’s notice. Bad posture is fixed, uncomfortable and unnatural.
4. Bad posture causes scoliosis.
There has never been a study linking bad posture to scoliosis. Scoliosis stems from unknown causes.
5. There’s only good and bad posture.
The idea of bad posture leads to people locking themselves in that uncomfortable position described in Number 3. Then movement completely stops and you’re stuck in one position. That position doesn’t set the standard for what’s good and what’s bad. Posture should instead be viewed as an idea without hard rules. The human body is different, so finding an individual position that encourages movement and comfort will vary for everyone.
6. Sitting at a computer all day ruins posture.
Fact. Beyond adversely affecting your health, sitting does cause bad posture. It causes your neck to strain and shoulders to hunch, but worst of all, it keeps you in a fixed position. Make sure to keep adjusting and moving in your chair during the day, or you can opt for standing up (which we highly recommend).
So instead of remaining in your chair all day, get up and move! You don’t have to awkwardly march to the water cooler with straight shoulders and a straight spine, just move. Saunter over to your coworker’s desk for a chat instead of sending an email, or walk around the block during lunch. Stand and stretch behind your desk every so often to encourage the most important quality of posture: Movement.