Good posture is an uber-important part of a healthy lifestyle, yet it’s something you probably always put off until later—you know, like switching to decaf or watching less TV. But we’re guessing you don’t realize all of the ways in which standing up straighter can impact your life. Just check out these changes that you can expect when you finally do stop slouching.
3. You’ll Experience Fewer Headaches
If you deal with tension headaches on the regular, crappy posture could be to blame. “Tension headaches are usually caused by a tight neck, upper back, and jaw muscles, and it’s most often the forward head and forward shoulders posture that causes this,” says Dukart. “Over time, if the muscle tightness becomes chronic, trigger points can develop, and this can cause radiating pain in your head.” To help nix the headaches, make sure your ears are always aligned over your shoulders, and gently press your shoulders down away from your ears, says Dukart. Finally, squeeze your shoulder blades back and together, like you’re tucking your shoulder into your back pocket.
4. You’ll Give Your Joints a Breather
Using bad posture can wreak havoc on your joints: Text neck, for example, places oodles of stress on your shoulder joint, neck, and surrounding muscles, which can lead to pain and injury, says Dukart. “Research has shown that for every inch of a forward head posture, it increases the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds,” she adds. Another common no-no is tipping your pelvis forward, which stresses out your spine and can lead to decreased core strength, as well as back and hip pain. Over the long haul, bad posture can lead to icky things, like tendonitis and bone spurs, says Halse. Good posture aligns and balances your muscles, decreasing joint compression and your risk of injury.
5. You’ll Stress Less
A recent study from the University of Auckland found that sitting up straight can be used as a coping mechanism against stress. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups and asked to complete a stress-inducing task. The first group completed the task in an upright position, while the second group did so getting their slouch on. After the task was over, participants who used good posture reported “feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong.” Meanwhile, slumped participants reported feeling more “fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish.” Researchers suspect that sitting up straight can stimulate physiological arousal, such as a spike in blood pressure, and trigger a coping response to stress. When your body isn’t positioned properly, it may eff with how your hormones and nervous system function, altering your mood.