Perhaps you recall your parents telling you to sit up straight and now you find yourself telling your children the same thing. “Straighten up!” or “Stop slouching” still echo through the halls of many households. The problem is exponentially worse today because our youth don’t go outside much anymore. In fact, a recent study of 12,000 parents in 10 countries suggest that inmates spend more time outdoors than children.1 Guardian 25/3/2015 They are also increasingly reliant on technology such as phones, computers, video games and television, which ultimately leads to the development of poor posture.
Eventually, these children will grow into adults, and these poor movement patterns will have become deeply ingrained. They go to work and sit. According to Dr. James Levine in his book ‘Deskbound’, ‘For every hour that you sit, your life expectancy decreases by two hours. By comparison, every cigarette smoked reduces life expectancy by eleven minutes.’ This means that sitting is far more dangerous than smoking! Adults are also susceptible to exacerbations that can further impact their posture, such as stress and low energy. For many adults, the stress of the world weighs heavily on them, and the burden of that weight is often reflected in their posture.
It is the lack of a proper movement and complacent body positions, and not lack of exercise, which are predominant contributors to poor posture in adults. While most teens are able to maintain their shape without being active, adults have a more difficult time maintaining muscle mass, which is a prerequisite for proper spine alignment. As we age, movement becomes increasingly important in our efforts to prevent body deterioration.
When the body stops moving for prolonged periods of time, it’s like telling your body it’s time to stop working and prepare for breakdown.
Imagine taking a wooden ruler and bending it. When you bend the ruler, you create stress along the length of the ruler. The stress on the ruler is greatest at the exact point of the bend. If you continue to bend the ruler, it will eventually break. Sitting with poor posture stresses the spine in a similar way. When you sit, the spine is slumped forward and this places enormous stress on the discs and joints, which is the source of most back pain.