Humans have been trying to decode the secrets of a long life for ages. Alchemists have sought after the elixir of life from ancient Mesopotamia to ancient China. They have mixed many herbs, roots, and spices to create a formula that ensures radiant vitality and longevity.
To this day, a long and functional life is the ultimate desire of every human being. One secret to longevity is accessible to all of us and, when consumed daily, it can help us live a long and healthy life.
Posture is the elixir of life!
While we know the connection between poor posture and back pain, its relation to extended lifespan hasn’t seen much light of the day. Researchers in Japan found that poor posture decreases our lifespan and quality of life. They tracked adults between the ages of 64 and 95 for four and a half years and their ability to perform daily activities based on their posture. Researchers found that posture significantly impacted quality of life and life expectancy.
Posture is a big part of solving the health equation. It’s concerning to see the deteriorated posture of young adults considering our increased reliance on technology in the modern age. Posture habits and exercises need to be part of our wellness routine. It needs to be something we work towards, like improving our fitness and nutrition.
Why Is Posture a Problem?
Poor posture primarily stems from our work and recreational habits like sitting hunched over the keyboard, slouching on the couch while watching TV, commuting in the car, and using smartphones. Posture issues can also arise due to repetitive movements, for example, construction workers, factory workers, and everyday habits like carrying your bag on one side. We are surrounded with negative stimulus. Our heads jutted forward, necks bent, shoulders rounded, and a hump in our backs has become the new normal for posture.
As a human movement specialist, I’ve worked with many deskbound professionals suffering with pain and low quality of life due to poor posture. They come to me with shoulder, neck, back, or knee pain. When I perform a complete evaluation, I find that they also have underlying respiratory, metabolic, and skeletal issues. Our body is a miraculous system that works as one unit. Misalignment in its skeletal system also compromises other body systems.
How Poor Posture Limits Our Lifespan
Here are a few ways poor posture shortens our lifespan.
It’s all about your heart: Poor posture decreases blood circulation and increases heart disease risk. A research study conducted on four thousand people in England found that participants with age related height loss due to poor posture had a 64 percent higher chance of developing coronary heart disease.
Stand tall and breathe better: Our lungs and diaphragm get compressed in a slumped posture. Poor posture reduces our lung capacity by 30% resulting in over breathing. An easy and economical fix for better posture is to invest in a standing desk. Standing will help you breathe better, nourishing your body and brain with oxygen and increasing your focus and productivity during work.
Avoid the hump: Working with poor posture affects the curvature of our spine, adopting a C-shaped curve in our upper back. This posture anomaly is called hyper-kyphosis. This posture causes nerve compression, which can shorten our life. Moreover, Dr. Deborah Kado’s team at UCLA found that older persons with hyper-kyphosis are twice more likely to die from respiratory problems and almost two and half (2.4) times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those with an upright posture.
Built-in fall protection: Our natural posture is our body’s fall protection mechanism. In a hunched-over posture, our center of gravity goes forward, resulting in a higher risk of falling. Hip fractures resulting from falls are a major cause of high mortality rates in seniors. Poor posture also results in compression fractures as the bones in the back cannot support the extra load placed on them.
Ways to Improve Posture
The good news is you can start improving your posture at any age. Simple exercises done at regular intervals throughout the day can gently stretch, engage, and strengthen the postural muscles to function correctly and maintain the natural alignment of your skeleton. Here are a few exercises to avoid and correct hyper-kyphosis.
- Seated or standing at a desk, look up and over your shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for ten seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Perform three repetitions on each side.
Upper Trapezius Stretch:
- Place one hand on the side of your head and gently tilt your head toward the shoulder on the same side.
- Line your ears up with your shoulders like a chin tuck.
- Gently press your head down till you can feel a good stretch down the side of your neck.
- Place your other hand behind your back for a deeper stretch.
- Hold this stretch for twenty seconds.
Seated Shoulder Squeeze:
- Relax your head, neck, and shoulders.
- Bend your elbows drawing your upper arm close to your chest and ribs.
- Let your forearms come out to the side, almost parallel to the floor.
- Squeeze the shoulders back and hold for ten seconds.
- Release and repeat 8-10 times.
- Secure a resistance band around the front leg of your desk or a doorknob.
- Grab one end of the resistance band in each hand with your arms extended in front of you.
- You can use two water bottles instead of a resistance band.
- Keep a slight bend in your elbows, and your wrists neutral.
- Slowly pull the band back until they are next to your waist.
- Squeeze the shoulder blades together while pulling the band.
- Hold the squeeze for 3-4 seconds.
- Perform 8 -1 0 repetitions.
Posture is the key to health and wellness. Aligning our spine can open the door to many healthy years of our life. Building small posture habits throughout our workday and incorporating daily postural exercises can help us live a long, pain-free life while regaining mobility and function.
You can download your free ultimate guide to better posture at this link – https://unhunched.ck.page/ecf6947f70. Look out for my book “Unhunched” about discovering wellness through posture releasing May 2023 on Amazon.