girl with iphone and bad posture

Bad Posture and Costochondritis

Bad posture can cause a cascade of medical conditions throughout the body including back and neck pain, trouble breathing, poor digestion, nerve issues and more. It’s no surprise that many people can trace the root of their costochondritis to problems with their posture. Bad posture puts stress on our joints and tissues, causing joint stiffness, weakened muscles, and inflammation – in other words, a recipe for costochondritis.

With the current advancements in technology, we now have a new problem to deal with – the iHunch, also sometimes called the iSlouch. For many, this problem doesn’t sound that serious. But, the moment you start to feel the neck pain, back pain, headaches, and major shoulder pain, you’ll begin to understand how serious this problem is. 

What is the iHunch?

The iHunch (or slouch) is a term used to refer to a person when they sharply bend their neck over their tablet or phone. This action tilts the head forward in an unnatural position and puts a lot of pressure on the spine. 

According to research, there are two types of posture:

  • Dynamic posture
  • Static posture

Dynamic posture is when the position puts pressure on the spine while moving. Static posture refers to the same position but while standing, sleeping, or sitting. 

The iHunch (sometimes called “texting neck”) has become an epidemic – everyone always bent down to look at their phones or tablets, scrolling through Snapchat and Facebook. If we take a look at recent research, people spend on average more than 3.75 hours every day bent over their phones. The more we slouch, the higher the weight we put onto the spine. This can cause permanent spine curvature, back pain, neck pain, and headaches.

What Causes the iHunch?

Anything that changes the upright posture of the spine, whether it is looking at the phone, bending over to work on your laptop or typing on the computer can cause bad posture associated with the iHunch. Certain occupations where workers often need to look down also expose people to this problem including surgeons, chefs, hairdressers, teachers, nurses, office workers, and more.

The most common mistake people make is not paying attention to their posture. Not sitting or standing properly can have the same effect. If we are slouching on a chair, we put pressure on the soft tissues and muscles. The same thing applies when standing upright and sticking your bottom out too far. This is called an anterior pelvic tilt. However, when the bottom sticks out, it curves the lower back unnaturally.

What Are the Symptoms of Bad Posture?

The most common symptoms of bad posture are the following:

  • Potbelly
  • Pain anywhere on the body
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Bent knees when walking or standing
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • The head leans backward or forward

How to Prevent the iHunch (and Bad Posture)

To avoid putting too much stress on your spine, joints, and muscles, there is a simple way you can prevent iHunch. The first thing you should do is take a moment every single day to check your current posture. Remind yourself how important it is to keep the spine upright and in a natural position. Try practicing this habit as much as you can to get effective results. You can also try a different device, anything that can help keep the spine in its proper position, like the Backpod for example. You just place the Backpod under your back to help fix your posture. 

Can Bad Posture Cause Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is an inflammation (often temporary) that causes chest pain, especially in the long bone in the middle of the rib cage (called the sternum). Though Costochondritis can be caused by many different things, physical therapists and physicians are seeing more cases due to people bending over their smartphones and laptops. When the upper back is hunched over for long periods of time, your support muscles weaken and the rib joints become tight and immobile, eventually freezing up. When these rib joints are frozen up, this can set off costochondritis pain on the front of the chest when they become tight enough.

If you’re suffering from the iHunch, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your shoulders and spine. The muscles down the back of the neck become overworked. The more pressure you put on the shoulders and spine, the more problems you are going to face. If the shoulders are rounded all day, every day, the body will try to compensate for it. At some point, the chest will feel tight, which is why you can feel rib and sternum pain. This type of pain is associated with costochondritis. 

posture tips illustration for costhocondritis
Common Posture Problems and Tips for Improvement

5 Tips for Improving your Posture 

You can improve your posture by adding a couple of new lifestyle changes. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly worth it. Not only will you look good, but you will also feel a million times better. If you think you slouch too much or use your phone too often, then it’s time to take a step back and implement a couple of changes. Here are a few ways you can improve your posture:

1. Stand Upright When Walking

Keep your back straight and look forward instead of looking at the ground. Keep the chin up and high, stomach in, and shoulders back. This is how a proper posture should look like. 

2. Walk Like You Have a Book on Your Head

Imagine placing a book on top of your head and you have to walk from one place to the other without letting the book fall over. To do that, you have to keep your back straight and your head up. Focus on looking straight ahead – and don’t let that book fall!

3. Sit Properly

Your back should be at a proper right angle to the thighs, shoulders straight, neck and back aligned, and head upright. Don’t slouch or lean forward!

4. Don’t Slouch to Text

Want to send a text message? Stretch the neck and avoid tilting the head. Bring the phone slightly towards the face at an angle that will help you see better without having to bend over to type. Just lift the phone up and move it towards your eyes. 

5. Select a Proper Mattress

Having a saggy or too soft mattresses can bend the spine unnaturally. A firm mattress can hold the spine in proper shape. Side sleepers typically need a softer mattress, so they can sink in far enough to align the spine without putting too much pressure on any single point.

If you look around the Costochondritis forums on the internet, you’ll see many anecdotal cases of people reporting improvements in their symptoms from fixing their posture. Bad posture, and especially the iHunch, is not something that should be ignored. Even though it doesn’t sound too threatening, it can still pose a serious problem for your health and body posture. However, as long as you are focused on fixing your posture, you can improve your costochondritis symptoms, and can get the spine back in its proper position naturally and gradually.

12 thoughts on “Bad Posture and Costochondritis”

  1. Been having chest pain got 3 yrs.. been to heart doctor, had test ran such as several EKGs, x-rays, CTS, 2 stress tests and any test they could do other than a heart Cath. Bc said.it was not needed. All tests were.normal. I get pains and then it scares me and I feel like I’m havinf heart attack. Been to local e.r. Dept and they think I’m crazy I guess. I’m always scared o will die.please help
    I beg.

    Reply
    • got the same thing buddy. Going on one year for me. Also been to the ER, twice. Ran all the tests as well…feels like theres no answers… I feel your pain my friend. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I know it feels hopeless…stay strong Crystal Ann. I am praying for you.

      Reply
    • its costochronditis pain its nothing serious but you should talk to your doctor about numbing the joint or having surgery if the pain hurts you that much. ive had it for a few months and it really sucks.

      Reply
    • same with me. i have been to 3 different hospitals,6 different doctors( 2 were cardiologists,3 were general surgeons and one was a doctors that cures through natural medicine). The one cardiologist did a angiogram(i am only 20 years old) they didnt find anything, the other cardiologist did even do anyhting, several ECG were done, chest xrays, blood tests and i was even in ICU for 4 days. They didnt find anything wrong with me. The one doctor where i am now diagnosed me with costochondritis. I find that heat before bed helps with the pain and also changing my diet( not eating any take aways or drinking anything but water and green tea)

      Reply
  2. Hi there,
    I’ve been on the same boat for the past six months. All of the above tests mentioned in comments (except the out-of-budget angio) and hospitals have yielded negative results.

    Since that day, I’ve been on blood thinners and LDL cholesterol-lowering medications.
    I was afraid of death in sleep until after 3.5 months of pain a cardiologist determined that the problem was costochondritis.

    During the pandemic, doctors advised me to seek psychiatric help because I was under a lot of stress from my PhD studies, my spouse’s favorite unresponsive behavior, and two young children.

    This could also be the result of poor sleeping posture, besides my child used to get sleep on my chest.

    Aside from these medications, I’m also taking antidepressant pills.

    The 6 months of deep hole as a result of this terrifying pain, I am barely motivated to continue my studies. When I sleep, talk a lot/shout, or get emotional, it gets worse.

    Using a hot water bag is, of course, more beneficial. Avoid any task that puts your left side muscles under stress, according to the doctor.

    A proper rest is recommended, but muscles rarely get enough rest due to continuous breathing. As a result, healing will take time.

    Reply
  3. Mine started a few months ago. I’ve had severe pain that gets worse as the day goes on. Sharp back pain and upper rib cage so bad by end of day. I’m seeing an osteopath which has helped and I’ve started using hot water bottle and paracetamol to ease the pain. It’s very draining because I have to cook and clean for my family every day so I can’t just stop and let it get better

    Reply
    • I have the same also. I wake up with no pain or very little. As the day goes on it gets stronger. Sharp stabs in the back by the shoulder blade upper and lower. And pain in the centre of the sternum top middle and bottom. Sitting makes it worse if I lean up against cushions or slouch a little. Sitting straight with no back rest helps ease it. I use ibuprofen gel for the sternum and into the left pec and that seems to help. Also some shoulder and neck pain from time to time. I eat smaller meals at night and lay flat in bed with a orthopaedic pillow. That helps also. And I use door stretches to help stretch the sternum and stop it freezing up and causing pain. Had it a year now and it comes and goes. I feel your pain and its horrible at times.

      Reply
  4. I have been having the same condition described by others in the comments section, pain around the sternum, did all the tests, they even suspected TB and all came back negative, some doctors threw it on allergies, but I don’t believe so, Costochondritis makes much more sense, came here to find like a routine to follow to ease the pain, and asking if exercising – like running and cardio- would be beneficial?

    Reply
  5. I have the same also. I wake up with no pain or very little. As the day goes on it gets stronger. Sharp stabs in the back by the shoulder blade upper and lower. And pain in the centre of the sternum top middle and bottom. Sitting makes it worse if I lean up against cushions or slouch a little. Sitting straight with no back rest helps ease it. I use ibuprofen gel for the sternum and into the left pec and that seems to help. Also some shoulder and neck pain from time to time. I eat smaller meals at night and lay flat in bed with a orthopaedic pillow. That helps also. And I use door stretches to help stretch the sternum and stop it freezing up and causing pain. Had it a year now and it comes and goes. I feel your pain and its horrible at times.

    Reply
  6. I’ve had every heart test, Endoscopy, lung doctor with pulmonary test and lastly a Rheumatologist and my heart and Rheumatologist said its Costochondritis. I’ve had it for 7 months and not getting better. My Rheumatologist put me on Meloxicam an anti-inflammatory pill and it’s been 6 weeks but not getting better. I find that a warm heating pad is the best relief. What worries me is that it feels worse when I get anxious or get worried. I can’t go running which is my passion because after a half mile I get a pain in my sternum and have to stop. I once ran 5 miles non stop with that pain but no shortness of breath. I haven’t ran in 6 months and of course no push-ups which i believe is what started this problem.

    Reply
  7. I have had same symptoms since starting a new job and sitting in office chair for eight hours a night I thought the first time I was having a heart attack went to A+E nothing last week started with really bad backaches shoulder pain and headaches then yesterday the same pain left side of chest came back sharp pain in chest very painful after been so uncomfortable in bed I looked it up and came across a video on how to help vitamin D is a big yes also get a tennis ball place it next to your spine on left side and side your body up and down the ball it’s not very comfortable but I swear done it once and pain has massively improved

    Reply
  8. Hi. I’m suffering with pain in my breast bone that radiates to my back and under arm. I’ve just had the all clear for cervical cancer so have had blood tests and full body scans so cancer is ruled out, but it’s hard to convince my brain of that😂 I have pain every day and it’s getting me down now, I should be happy with my latest results but this has taken over my mind🤦‍♀️ had this for a few months now, I go back to work in a couple of weeks so I’m hoping it takes my mind of it . Also yes doctors have said it’s probably costochondritis just worried it’s going to get unbearable 🥲.

    Reply

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