If there’s one thing that rings throughout the halls at the beginning of a new semester, it’s the sounds of students complaining about their back pain. It’s no secret that people would rather slouch in their chair than attempt to sit straight up with their feet flat on the floor. But people don’t realize how harmful it can be long-term to sit in positions that compromise their spine health.
Most of the time, the positions humans find the most comfortable to sit in or sleep in are actually the ones harming them the most. While it might be comfortable to sleep on the stomach, it can actually place unnecessary stress on the back which can lead to discomfort throughout the day.
“Bad posture can lead to permanent structural deformities,” Mrs. Melissa Brusnahan, school athletic trainer, said. “We don’t see the long term effects until we’re older, so we need to try and unlearn the habit early on.”
Almost everything humans do in life is habitual. Forming a new habit takes around three weeks of consistency every day for it to stick. This means that it also takes the same amount of time to unlearn all the bad habits one picks up throughout their life. Just like all tendencies, such as brushing your teeth, going to the gym and washing your face, having good posture is another habit that more people need to develop a discipline for in order to protect their overall health in the future.
“It’s a mental thing,” Brusnahan said. “We need to be conscious of not slouching and keeping our feet flat on the floor.” Unless someone has a deformity caused by things such as scoliosis, it is mainly forming these good habits of sitting up straight that will ease some of the pain most people feel in their back after sitting for most of the day.
Senior Payton Kincaid often notices she’s slouching. She said that “sometimes I’ll feel the pain from being hunched over and I try to sit up straighter, but it doesn’t really last that long.” This tends to be the case for most people when they try to fix their posture; it never carries on for more than a few seconds.
One way to avoid poor posture is to be mindful of where you’re sitting while doing work. While it might be the most comfortable to complete homework while lying in your bed, you’re more likely going to feel stress on the lower back if you’re sitting up to write something. If you choose to sit at a table or a desk, it might be beneficial to set a timer for every fifteen minutes to remind yourself to sit up straighter.
If you know you’re going to be sitting in the same spot for long periods of time, try to find areas that you can turn into a makeshift standing desk to allow for your spine to be in a neutral position. If all else fails, consult your physician or speak with a physical therapist to see if you need to turn to alternate methods, such as a brace, to help fix your posture.
By learning good habits early on in life, it is going to be easier to carry them on for years and avoid any chronic pain that comes along with sitting incorrectly. All it takes is a conscious effort to keep the shoulders back when looking down at a desk, and to act as though your shoes are glued to the floor so you’re not as tempted to relax your back muscles and commence the slouching.