Technology has made people’s lives easier and faster. Gone are the days when humans needed to lay down traps and stalk the forest to have enough food. Nowadays, any craving, from Korean fried chicken to rich chocolate cake, can be satisfied with one click of a button on a delivery app. Most jobs are also white-collar work, where the majority of one’s time is spent in front of a screen and typing on a keyboard. That is a far cry from the past when manual labor in fields and factories were the most common profession.
The lack of need for physical movement, brought about by the comforts of the modern world, has led to the emergence of health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who have low levels of physical activity are susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The human body needs to move and exercise to regulate many internal functions and systems.
Poor posture is also one manifestation of a sedentary lifestyle. The body tries to compensate with the unnatural positions by tightening muscles that should be loose and vice-versa — as well as build fibrous tissues to support the body better. Spending prolonged periods sitting can also ruin the structural integrity of the spine. Like how a custom mouth guard protects one’s teeth from harm, the spine serves as a shield for essential nerves. If the natural shape of the spine changes, nerves can get compressed, which will trigger chronic pain and aches.
All is not lost, though, because poor posture can be fixed with awareness and practice. Here are the two most common posture mistakes and how to fix them:
Sporting a turtlelike neck
A turtle can extend and shorten their necks as much as they please. That is due to the extra vertebrae in the muscle. Sadly, humans don’t have those additional pieces, which makes extending one’s head all the time dangerous. That usually happens when you’re looking downward for too long, such as reading on a screen lower than shoulder height. People’s heads tilt forward with the shoulders and back hunching. Having a turtlelike neck puts pressure on the neck and the upper back muscles as they try to support the head instead of the weight being distributed throughout the spine.
What to do: Be mindful of your head position when using computers and mobile phones. Make sure that the screen is at eye level or shoulder height to avoid looking down all the time. Chin tucks, pull-ups, and chest stretches can help straighten out the back and align the neck back to its original position.
Your butt sticks out a lot
Hollywood and Instagram might have you believe that a booty protruding outward is something to be jealous of. But having that body structure is dangerous. The pelvis, thighs, and hips are hyperextended and tightened while the lower back is forced to overarch. The core and buttock muscles, which should support the body’s weight, weaken and lead to continuous lower back pain. People will have decreased mobility in their lower spines.
What to do: Imagine a rope is pulling your body upwards from the top of your head. Being conscious of this movement will help your body keep a straight alignment while adjusting to the spine’s natural curve. You can also strengthen your core and glute muscles through plank exercises, hip flexor stretches, and side-lying leg raises.
Maintaining good posture might be an underrated way of improving one’s health. Still, it can contribute to increased mobility, better spine alignment, and decreased risks to a multitude of health issues.