7 Bad Habits You Didn’t Realize Were Ruining Your Posture

Did you sit up straight as soon as you read that title? If you did, then good! Most of us aren’t often aware of how we’re sitting or standing when our minds are too preoccupied with whatever it is that we’re looking at, doing or thinking.

Bad posture can put excess stress on your neck and spine, which can obviously cause pain. But you’ll want to improve your posture for more reasons than just to avoid back and neck pain. Posture can be so bad that it may contribute to headaches, and one study even found that it reinforces negative emotions.

Slouching in your office chair or on the couch is one of the obvious things that causes bad posture, but there are several more little hidden habits you do subconsciously that affect your posture too. See how many of the following you know you do on a daily basis so we can work to fix them!

1. Tilting your head down to stare at your smartphone or computer screen.

According to The Washington Post, what’s now referred to as “text neck” has become an epidemic. Depending on the angle you tilt your head forward to look at your smartphone or iPad or computer screen, you could end up increasing the weight placed on your cervical spine by up to 60 pounds—the equivalent weight of a young child.

Prolonged periods of sitting with your neck tilted at an unnatural angle can cause all sorts of horrifying health problems over the long run. To combat this, try holding your smartphone as far up in front of you while holding your head in a natural forward position. Adjust your eyes to look down (rather than your head) if you need to lower your smartphone a bit. It may look and feel a bit weird at first, but it’s worth it if it will save your spine and improve your posture.

2. Carrying heavy purses, satchels, laptop bags or backpacks on one shoulder.

Bags that have a handy strap to throw over your shoulder may look cool and stylish, but they’re no good for your back, neck or shoulders at all. You know it’s not natural for one shoulder to bear all the weight of a heavy laptop, multiple books and everything else you need to carry around with you.

If you have to carry some heavy things around with you, get a proper backpack that can be worn over both shoulders so that the weight can be distributed as evenly as possible. Adjust the straps so that it fits comfortably and avoid overloading it with too much stuff! You shouldn’t have to be hunched over while carrying it.

3. Wearing high heels.

There’s that old saying that goes “pain is beauty,” and don’t us women know it when it comes to high heels. They can affect everything from the way you stand and the way you walk to the way your muscles in your calves respond and the way your bones in your ankles hold up. Not to mention crushed toes and excess weight on the balls of your feet, of course.

Besides wearing high-heeled shoes as infrequently as possible, WebMD recommends using padded insoles to serve as a buffer between your foot and the shoe. Stretching your calves the way runners do can also help lengthen out the Achilles tendon that runs up the back of the heel to the calf.

4. Shifting your body weight to lean on one leg when you’re tired of standing.

This is a common standing position to revert to when you’ve been standing for a long time. It feels comfortable for a while because you don’t need to use your butt or core to hold yourself up, but it puts more stress on that one side of your lower back and the hip you’re learning toward.

The solution? Get used to standing on both legs with your weight evenly distributed. You may want to consider doing some exercises that help strengthen your core and butt as well.

5. Working with your arms extended out in front of you.

A lot of us have jobs where we’re working with our arms and hands — either with a computer or other physical objects. In these types of cases, the shoudler, arm, and chest muscles are activated, which can cause people to round their shoulders and pull their heads forward when over worked.

Stretching can help, and positioning yourself relative to your work station in a way that encourages good posture is essential. Everything from your armrest and your chair height to your mousepad and your keyboard can affect how your upper body responds. Princeton University has a great article on office ergonomics with detailed tips, plus a video that takes you through some effective stretches.

6. Sleeping on your stomach.

You probably have one or two preferred positions for sleeping. Unfortunately, stomach sleepers may be the worst off. Not only does it flatten out the spine’s natural curve but it also strains the neck by forcing it to be turned to one side.

If you find yourself slouching and contorting your back or neck in response to the pain of a bad stomach sleeping habit, but can’t find a way to give it up, there are a few things you can do. The Mayo Clinic recommends placing a pillow underneath your pelvic area and lower abdomen. You may also want to experiment sleeping with or without a pillow to see how your neck responds.

7. Being stressed out all the time.

Shocker! Being overly stressed is bad for your posture. Why? It causes tension in the very muscles you use to sit or stand up straight. Check out 10 bizarre ways to reduce stress if you know you could up your ante on stress management.

I hope you sat up straight the whole way through this article! You’ll be well on your way to better posture habits if you did.

Related Articles
Why Standing Desks May Not Be as Beneficial as You Think
5 Tips for Working Out in a Small Space
7 Ways Walking Can Be Better Than Strenuous Exercise

Photo Credit: Umberto Salvagnin

104 comments

Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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W. C
W. C6 months ago

Thanks for the information.

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William C.
William C1 years ago

Thank you.

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

tyfs

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Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Unfortunately, it is late for me; my history of bad positions cause me to have scoliosis.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ruth R.
Ruth R2 years ago

Thank You.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn2 years ago

Many thanks to you !

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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