10 celebrities with terrible posture
Whether they’re hitting the red carpet or the coffee shop, many of today’s hottest starlets take along unhealthy habits such as slouching, standing pigeon-toed and striking poses that risk their health. Young Hollywood may not be thinking about where they’ll spend their golden years, but a new Japanese study says that Emma Watson, Keira Knightley and several other A-listers could be destined to suffer a lot of back pain in later years and even land in nursing homes, dependent on others to bathe and dress them. That’s because researchers found that spinal posture when you’re young (or in middle age) impacts the health of your core and its ability to maintain proper function required for continence, dressing, bathing and other regular daily activities later in life.
While plenty of red-carpet staples may think that trademark slouch is sexy and a pigeon-toed stance or twisted frame adds to the mystique, science and experts say these ladies’ cores could end up completely kaput and that a life of back pain is sure to follow.
-- By Gina Roberts-Grey for MSN Healthy Living
It’s adorable, but Jessica Alba’s trademark pose – one hand on her hip and the opposite leg “popped out” at the knee – is bad for her back, says Rajat Kumar, a physical therapist at Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics/LifeBridge Health in Baltimore. “This pose puts a lot of strain on one side of her body because the straight leg is bearing most of the body weight. It’s more strain than the back and body in general is typically built to absorb.”
Toss heels into this equation and Kumar says you add a lot of stress to the knees and hips. “Heels throw a woman’s body forward and out of the natural alignment needed for spine health,” Kumar says. Over time, the combination of a stance that’s unbalanced and supported by heels increases the compressive forces on muscles, joints and discs in the lower back and can lead to pain not only in the back but also in the legs and feet.
Preventing the pain: It’s fine for Jessica to pose with a hand on her hip, but Kumar says a more back-friendly pose would be one that balances weight on both feet. He suggests Alba keep both feet in line to better support her hips and overall spine health.
By turning her shoulders in when she’s walking, sitting or standing, Hermione is casting a spell for neck, shoulder and back pain. Dr. Sonu Ahluwalia, clinical chief of orthopedic surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, says proper position of the shoulders is very important for muscles and tendons in the back, neck and shoulders to work properly and stay healthy.
“The more out of alignment muscles are when shoulders are turned in instead of maintaining proper, natural alignment, the more the likelihood of suffering from pain,” Ahluwalia says.
That’s because the shoulder blades (called scapulas) provide positioning and support to the back of the rib cage. So if they’re not in the correct position, everything else can get thrown out of whack.
Upper back pain is likely for Watson, but lower back pain is also a possibility. “When a person turns their shoulders in, the joints and discs throughout the entire spine are stressed,” Ahluwalia says.
It is also possible to develop fatigue from this type of poor posture. “When muscles in the shoulders and upper back strain to keep your spine in an unnatural position, they get tired easily and you’re likely to feel exhausted.”
Preventing the pain: Ahluwalia suggests Watson straighten up. “That includes pulling the shoulders back so the chest is vertical. Also, the neck should not be straining forward but be in a neutral position.”
Sarah Jessica Parker
She loves to teeter in stylish, sky-high stilettos, but SJP needs to leave the Manolos and Louboutins in the box now and then. Otherwise, she could be in for more than the reported extra bone she grew on her foot as a result of jamming her piggies into peep toes (and all those other heel styles).
Eric G. Walter, D.P.M., professor of orthopedic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of podiatric medicine and the surgery center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, says heels cause the calf muscles and hamstrings to shorten. “That can result in tightening of the back muscles. And the longer muscles are tight, the more abnormal pull there is on joints. This can lead to muscle spasms and either low or mid-back pain.”
Heels can also shorten the muscle groups in the upper leg, causing hip muscles to overwork and torque the hip joint. “This can cause abnormal pressure to the sacroiliac joint and low back pain,” Walter adds.
Preventing the pain: In addition to swapping out stilettos, pumps and high, strappy sandals for the occasional pair of flats, Walters recommends wearing heels that are 2 inches or lower. “Stretching the calves and hamstrings will decrease the effect of the heels on shortening muscles,” he adds.
Slouching (when the shoulders are rounded and the mid-back muscles are flexed forward resulting in a curve of the mid-back and flattening of the low back) places increased load on joints and soft tissues of the back, says Jason Brewton, director of physical therapy at the Texas Back Institute in the Fort Worth area. “Over time, this results in excessive wear and tear on the spine and shoulders as well as muscular imbalances resulting in disc problems, shoulder, facial, neck and back pain and reduced neck and shoulder range of motion.”
The longer slouching occurs, Brewton says, the more difficult it is to correct. “Instead of maintaining their natural shape and elasticity, some muscles and tendons shorten while others lengthen. Damage to joints and soft tissue can also occur,” he says.
Preventing the pain: “I find that a lot of young ladies are somewhat self-conscious about proper chest and shoulder position because they don’t want to stick their chest out,” Brewton says. But that bashfulness or self-consciousness leads to slouching. “I tell patients their chest should be out, not in, to naturally correct the mid-back curve and pull the shoulders back.”
The 5-foot-6 Cuoco is already an inch taller than her Big Bang Theory character’s love interest, Johnny Galecki. So it’s no wonder that her alter-ego, Midwest transplant turned California girl Penny, romps around in flip-flops. But this choice of height-minimizing footwear requires caution, says Christina Sigur, D.P.M., a podiatrist and instructor at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “You have to be careful about what kind of activities you do when wearing flip-flops because they don't give your foot a lot of stability.” So all that strolling up and down the BBT’s apartment building’s stairwells in flip-flops increases the odds that Cuoco could trip and fall and hurt her back.
Wearing flip-flops a lot can also alter your gait and increase stress on your knees, which can travel to your hips and back. “You have the potential of turning your foot a certain way and losing stability, which may potentially put stress to your back,” Sigur adds.
Preventing the pain: Exercises aimed at strengthening the back help. “It also helps to decrease the use of flip-flops or sandals when doing a lot of walking or other kinds of strenuous activities,” Sigur says.
Whether she’s walking around checking her phone or just cruising the mall, Miley is usually hunched over. And Louis Peterson, a New York City chiropractor, says all that hunching means she is definitely going to suffer from neck and back pain when she is older. “Walking hunched over lacks sufficient support of the natural curve of the spine. This then shortens the pectoral muscles in the front of the chest and elongates the trapezius muscles on the back and puts pressure on the discs and nerves in the spine. That will cause a lot of pain.”
Preventing the pain: Miley’s potential back pain might be the easiest to avoid. All she has to do is stand up straight, Peterson says. “It’s sad because many pick up these poor posture habits as children but if she just stood tall she would do a world of difference.”
She hunches over like Miley but Peterson says K Stew’s back problems are rooted in her pelvis. “She stands twisted, which may be a result of an imbalanced pelvis,” he says. It could also be the result of a bad habit of standing imbalanced.
Whatever the reason, the lack of balance makes her prone to a number of injuries and pain. “It affects the lower back and hips but also the pain can creep down to the knees, shins and foot,” Peterson says. “She is favoring one leg over the other and as a result is uneven in the pelvis area.”
Preventing the pain: Standing with both feet flat on the ground helps. So does stretching daily, which Peterson says helps to better support the hips and lower back. “Taking a yoga class can also really help balance the pelvis,” he says.
Erica Whitlock, a chiropractor and the director of physical therapy at SpineCARE Therapy, says although this pose might be slimming, it may cause spine damage. “Your spine was designed to be symmetrical and balanced, with the weight of your upper body displaced along each spinal joint. Any deviation can cause wear and tear to both joints and muscles,” she says.
Jutting the hips out can increase tension, straining your lower back and pelvis, which can eventually lead to pain. “This same pose can also cause you to relax your core muscles, causing your spine to lose stability and support,” Whitlock says.
Kumar says striking this pose in heels – as Hathaway often does on the red carpet – compounds the risk for back problems. “When women walk or stand in heels, their pelvis is in a forward position and the natural curve that exists in the lower back is not in an ideal alignment that allows them to distribute the stresses of being upright throughout the body. This is especially true if they are already jutting out their hips to pose in heels.”
Preventing the pain: Hathaway can avoid back pain by simply pulling her hips in. She’ll still be able to show off that svelte figure while protecting her back for years to come.
Kim K loves to flaunt her curves in sexy, tight styles. In fact, the reality star didn’t even take a break from donning skin-tight clothes during her recent pregnancy. But doctors say squeezing into tight clothes every day can be dangerous to your health.
“Wearing tight clothes day after day can compress the nerves in the back, which leads to tingling in the legs and stress on the back,” Peterson says. It can also result in poor circulation, which can trigger pain because oxygen and blood are not flowing to the body properly.
Preventing the pain: Opt for not-so-skinny jeans now and then. Even better, Kim K should give her back (and the rest of her body) a break and break out a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt.