Slouching affects more than the way you look -- it can have negative effects on your health, some of which are long term. You must practice good posture in every aspect of your daily life, from when you sit at your desk at work or school to when you lift a heavy item. If you are concerned your posture is not as good as it could be, it’s not too late to correct it and reduce potential effects.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Headaches/Jaw Pains

When you lean your head forward while seated, this may make you more likely to clench your jaw. Clenching the jaw and tightening your facial muscles can lead to headaches and jaw pain. Over time, repeated jaw clenching can contribute to tension in the temporomandibular joint, wearing it down. This effect can further contribute to other health problems from poor posture, including neck and upper back pain 2.

Shoulder/Back Pains

If your bad posture comes in the form of slouching, keeping the shoulders and back hunched over can cause pain and muscle tension. The same can be true if you try to overcorrect your posture by pulling the shoulders backward. This can cause you to tense your muscles, creating pain and stiffness in your back. Over time, shoulder pain and bad posture can lead to conditions that leave the shoulder permanently rounded or contribute to joint degeneration in your spinal column.

Reduced Lung Function

Leaning or hunching forward too much can affect your lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, according to Dr. Rene Cailliet, former director of University of Southern California's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation . When your lungs do not perform as well, your tissues, including your heart and brain, do not receive as much oxygenated blood. This can lead to shortness of breath, clouded thinking, and heart and vascular disease.

Gastrointestinal Pains

Your stomach and intestines rely on movements known as peristaltic movements to push food through your intestines. Poor posture can affect peristaltic function, meaning your gastrointestinal system may not function as effectively. This is especially true if your poor posture involves leaning your head forward.


While bad posture can lead to a number of health conditions, scoliosis isn’t one of them 2. However, a common myth suggests that bad posture can cause this condition that makes your spine curve abnormally. While the exact causes of scoliosis are unknown, scoliosis and posture have not been linked via research, according to the magazine “Ladies’ Home Journal.”