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Proper posture is necessary to ensure the body keeps functioning as best it can. Despite popular belief, poor posture is not just a bad habit with aesthetic effects. Weak or inflexible muscles can also be responsible for or be caused by posture disruptions.

When a person sits or stands improperly, regardless of the cause, the joints do not align properly. This increases the stress on the body and can lead to many different health issues.

Leads to Arthritis

Some muscles, like those in the neck and back, must work significantly harder when a person is slouching or has poor posture in some other way. Overworking these muscles increases the risk of injury and forces the body to frequently heal those areas.

This eventually encourages inflammation, which can then lead to arthritis in nearby joints.

Shot of a businessman suffering from neck pain while working at home Charday Penn / Getty Images

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Worsens Arthritis

Poor posture can cause arthritis, but it can also worsen it. Standing or sitting improperly changes how the body’s weight sits on the joints, which causes some joints to carry more stress. Over time, this can dramatically worsen conditions like osteoarthritis, which affects the weight-bearing joints of the hip, knee, and back.

Arthritis pain can be severe enough to decrease overall function and affect the quality of life.

Woman in home office suffering from back pain sitting at computer desk boonchai wedmakawand / Getty Images

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Ineffective Breathing

The diaphragm must have enough space to fully expand and contract with each breath. Standing or sitting up straight is the best way to provide that space. Bad posture, especially when the torso bends forward, limits the diaphragm’s motion. This, in turn, lowers breath quality and reduces the available oxygen in the body.

Low oxygen levels can cause dizziness, fatigue, or confusion and may eventually damage organs like the heart and brain.

Businesswoman Bending In Front Of Computer AndreyPopov / Getty Images

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Circulation Issues

In addition to breathing trouble, poor posture can cause other cardiovascular problems. Multiple studies have found that different body positions can dramatically affect heart rate and blood pressure.

Chronic improper posture can lead to high blood pressure and low heart rates, which may then develop into complications like artery damage or sudden cardiac arrest.

Woman using medical device to measure blood pressure Nico De Pasquale Photography / Getty Images

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Permanent Forward Head Posture

The cervical vertebrae are responsible for supporting the head and neck, providing both mobility and stability. Poor posture results in the head frequently adopting a forward position, placing it out of alignment with the spine. Because of this, the cervical vertebrae experience greater cantilever loads and often suffer damage.

Forward head posture can eventually become permanent, which could exacerbate issues like neck pain and dizziness.

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Pinched Nerves

Bad posture significantly increases the risk of pinched nerves. A pinched nerve occurs when surrounding tissues press on nerve roots, causing numbness, tingling, and pain.

Improper joint alignment speeds up wear and tear, especially in the spine. As the spine and its discs lose water content and flatten, they begin to develop small bone growths that may compress nerves. Alternatively, overworked muscles may tighten and pinch a nerve.

Shot of a young businessman suffering from a backache while working at his desk in his office. ljubaphoto / Getty Images

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Heartburn and Digestion Problems

While it may seem unlikely, poor posture can also cause a host of stomach and digestive problems. If a person assumes a slouched posture shortly after eating, they can experience heartburn and acid reflux. Slouching places pressure on the chest and stomach, forcing stomach acid to travel in the wrong direction.

There is also some evidence that slouching may affect digestion by slowing down the food traveling through the intestines.

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Constipation

Most people do not think about posture when sitting on a toilet, but toilet posture can play a major role in bowel movements. Sitting in a slouched or hunched-over position with the knees lower than the hips promotes constipation. This position prevents the abdominal muscles from helping push feces out while also somewhat closing the anus.

Some researchers even think that toilet posture increases the risk of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Midsection Of Woman With Toilet Paper Sitting On Toilet Bowl Kittisak Jirasittichai / EyeEm / Getty Images

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Incontinence and Sexual Dysfunction

The increase in abdominal pressure resulting from slouching also impacts the bladder. Certain postures will increase the stress on the bladder and tighten the pelvic floor muscles. As a result, a person may leak urine when laughing or coughing.

This incontinence may worsen if a person does not adjust their posture. A tight, weak pelvic floor also limits sexual function.

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Bad Mood

Many of the outcomes of bad posture can combine to affect mood. Improper posture has links to poor self-confidence. It also increases fatigue and irritability, thanks to muscle strain and soreness.

All of these factors together tend to result in a more negative mental state. Meanwhile, research shows that good posture can increase positive mood while also limiting fatigue and combating depression.

Shot of a young businesswoman looking bored while working at her desk in a modern office PeopleImages / Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.