Straighten to avoid long-term pain

Do you want to avoid chronic headaches, neck and back pain and several other long-term health issues? The solution is easy: stop slouching.
Holding a bad posture throughout your day doesn’t only make you look less confident, but it can greatly affect your health in the long run.
“Posture is one of the key issues in good health and longevity,” said Stephen Black, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Performance at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Black said there are three common postural issues people tend to have.
The first is a fatigue slump posture where you have your head down, shoulders rounded forward, chest caved in and hips rotated backwards.
Another common one is the forward head, when your head is aligned in front of your center of gravity. An example of this is when you scoot forward in a chair slouching — typically when studying or using a computer, phone or tablet.
Finally, when you carry a large pocketbook or backpack with a single strap on one shoulder. In that case your shoulder is elevated, leaning to the opposite side with your hip hiked on opposite side.
If any of these apply to you, make sure to work on improving your posture.
Krista Sinclair, a sophomore majoring in journalism and communication, doesn’t think much about her posture, but she does notice that her shoulders tend to fall forward. She said that even though she can’t pay attention to her posture all the time, she definitely makes sure to carry her backpack on both shoulders.
“If I look over and see someone being all hunched over and I realize I’m doing the exact same thing, I try to correct myself,” Sinclair said.
Black said that consequences of poor posture vary from severe compromise from jaw pain, chronic headaches, neck and back pain, to butt pain, curvature of the spine, compromised breathing, digestion and sports performance.
None of these issues sound comfortable, do they?
Mike Danielewski, a junior majoring in journalism, knows  the discomfort because he has experienced most of them first hand.
“With my posture the way it is now, I can’t be comfortable in class ever,” he said. “My shoulders have fallen forward, and I used to be almost an inch taller than I am now.”
Danielewski tries to work on paying attention by not  slouching and wearing his backpack on both shoulders. He also enjoys surfing and playing hockey as a hobby, but the long years of playing video games and sitting in front of the computer are taking a serious toll on him.
Hip, back, shoulder and neck pain don’t even surprise him any more. However, Danielewski said it does get better when he plays sports.
There are many exercises and  a couple of daily practical tips that can help you keep your posture nice and straight.
“Activities that strengthen the core such as Pilates, yoga, swimming, rowing and stand up paddleboarding will all strengthen the postural muscles and reverse the ‘slumped’ position,” Black said.
You can pay attention to your posture even when you are lying down with an easy trick that involves only a pillow — not counting the one that’s under your head.
Use a pillow between your knees when you are lying on your side and under the knees when you are lying on your back.
If you sit for a prolonged period of time such as in your classes, Black suggests placing a small pillow or towel behind your lower back to facilitate good posture.
Doing daily meditations and positive affirmations can also better your posture as well as your attitude, said Black.
A healthy posture doesn’t only mean a straight spine and aligned shoulders. It’s much more than that.
“Posture is a sign of confidence and pride,” Black said.