Effects of Bad Posture

By Chad Buleen

Although you probably learned to stand up straight to make a good first impression, this is just one way poor posture can hurt you. There are serious health risks associated with bad posture, which can affect you immediately or in the future.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are bony bumps or protrusions that develop around the sides of bones. The spur can cause quite a bit of pain if it rubs against other bones or nerves. Spinal bone spurs that severely alter your movement may require surgery.

Tension Headaches

Poor posture sometimes results in headaches due to physical stress the posture causes. The tension occurs in the shoulder and neck muscles and joints and works its way up to the head, causing tension headaches.

Herniated Discs

Herniated discs often occur in those with poor posture, and they're most common in the lumbar region of the spine. This is the part of your backbone between your ribs and hips. Soft discs provide a cushion between the vertebrae. A herniated disc occurs when the inner part (nucleus) of a disc pushes through the outer layer (annulus) of the disc. This can irritate a nerve in the spine, causing pain or numbness in your back, legs or arms.

Shallow Breathing

If you spend a lot of time on the computer, sitting at a desk or driving, you may have trouble keeping proper posture. The more you sit improperly, the more likely you are to restrict the flow of oxygen to your lungs. Sitting hunched over causes you to breathe less deeply, pulling less air into your lungs.

Back Pain

Poor posture causes the spine to fall out of alignment with ligaments, muscles and spinal joints that come under added stress. The most common kind of back pain from poor posture stems from muscle strains. You can avoid most muscular back pain by keeping a good posture and by stretching. A simple stretch: Grasp a pole or the edge of a desk to support you; squat partially so knees are bent; and shift your weight backward, as if you're trying to pull the pole or desk toward you. This stretch can be done a few times a day.

© Demand Media 2011