6 Bad Postures That are Ruining Your Health

If you are like most people, you grew up listening to your mother say “Stand up straight!” or “Don’t slouch, you’ll ruin your back”. In this case, mom was right. Too many of us are needlessly suffering from symptoms that actually come from our bad posture. Many of us recognize these things in other people, the hunched over shoulders, the head pushed out in front of the body, even those funny looking pigeon toes! However, not too many of us recognize these faults in our own posture.

Poor posture is no joke, though. Over time, your unsightly posture can take a very serious toll on your knees, hops, shoulders, and the spine. Bad posture that does not get corrected early in life can lead to back pain, reduced flexibility, and compromised muscles, which means you won’t have much ability to build strength as you get older, nor to burn fat as easily as you could.

pigeon-toed teen in sneakers

Photo credit: bigstock

Perhaps the worst consequence of bad posture, however, is the constriction of the nerves in the body. Your spine will actually change its shape, which will put pressure on the nerves within the spine. Nerves from all over the body connect at the spine, so these pinched nerves can cause pain in the back, legs, neck, and arms.

Take a look at the following 6 common poor posture positions that most people suffer from and the solutions for correcting them. Give them a try and make mom proud!


1. Rounded Shoulders

This is perhaps the most common posture problem. When the shoulders fall forward, the upper trap helps to support the shoulders from the neck. The exercise described below gets the global muscles to do the work of the weak postural muscles.

Fix This: Lie on the floor face down and raise each arm so it’s at a 90 degree angle, almost as if you are going to five someone a high-five slap. Don’t move your arms, but rather pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This is a very small movement. Hold this position for a count of 5. Do three sets of 12 reps every day. This exercise will change your posture by exercising and strengthening the postural muscles. Find out other easy ways to a perfect posture.


2. The Forward Head or Neck

This is usually due to stiff muscles in the back of your neck.

Fix This: For this exercise, move only your head. Drop your chin down and in towards your sternum (chest) while you stretch the back of the neck. Hold for a count of 5. Do this at least 10 times per day. Don’t push too hard, especially when you first start, or you can actually shift the vertebra in your back, which can lead to frequent headaches.


3. Elevated (Raised) Shoulders

This problem is caused by the muscle that runs under your chest (from your ribs to your shoulder blade) being very weak.

Fix This: Sit in a chair with your hands lying next to your hips. Put your palms down on the seat of the chair and keep your arms straight. Don’t move your arms; simply push down on the chair until you lift the hips off the seat. Try to hold this position for 5 seconds. Work up to 12 reps, three times per day.


SEE ALSO: 6 Body Postures for a Better Brain

4. Pigeon Toes

The problems that cause this can be quite complex but some of the contributing factors to this problem are weak muscle support from the glutes (butt), arthritis, deformities of the bone, and more.

Fix This: Lie on one side with the knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Keep the heels together and the hips still, raise the top knee upward. Think of a clam opening its shell and you will get the idea. Hold this for 5 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Work up to 12 reps on each side and two or three times per day.


5. Duck Feet

Like pigeon toes, the problems that can cause this are many and complex. One problem might be that the oblique and hip flexor muscles are weak.

Fix This: Get down on the floor into a pushup position with your feet resting on a stability ball. Don’t let your back round. Tuck your knees up and under your torso, using the feet to roll the ball towards your body. Return to start. Work up to 12 reps and do two or three sets every day.


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6. Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Many people stick out that truck because of a lack of support from their abs and unstable lumbar vertebra. Usually, the hip joints are unstable as well.

Fix This: Kneel down on the floor on the left knee, and place the right foot on the floor in front of you with the knee bent. Press forward until you feel the stretch in the left hip. Be sure to keep your butt muscles tight on until you feel the front of your hip stretching. Don’t push too hard! Reach upward with the left arm and stretch it out to your right side. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe! Do three of these stretches on both sides every day.

How to Evaluate Your Posture

Wear some form fitting clothes, such as leggings and tight fitting top, and take two full-body pictures. One should be from the front; the other should be side view. Stand as you normally would. Now refer to the chart below to diagnose your possible posture problems.

  • Find the midpoint of your shoulder. Now look at your ear. If it’s in front of that midpoint, your head is too far forward.
  • From the side view picture, can you see your shoulder blade? If so, your back is too round.
  • If your hips appear to tilt forward and your belly or behind are poking out, then you have an anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Using the front view picture, look at the shoulders. One should not be higher than the other.
  • Again, with the front view picture, look at your knees. Are they pointing inward, causing your knees to touch when your legs are straight? You are probably pigeon toed.
  • If your toes point outward more than 10 degrees, then you are duck footed.

There they are! Correcting bad posture when you are younger will prevent severe complications and problems in the future. Try the corrective exercises and you will not only feel better, but you will look better as well.