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Bad Posture Could Be The Cause Of Your Back Pain & Headaches

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Do you have back pains and headaches and can't figure out why? The cause could be as simple as your posture.

CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez says our bodies were meant to be used a certain way to support our weight, but modern devices and workplaces tend to sabotage that design.

In a few weeks, when it's time for finals, students at the New York Institute of Technology will get to work. They're members of the school's posture patrol.

"It's basically something people don't pay attention to a lot of the times," said physical therapy student Philip Hennings.

(Credit: CBS2)

That's why they'll be handing out brochures to students and faculty.

"Just correcting them with their posture and helping them become aware, I realize that it makes such a huge difference and is what we consider preventative medicine," Hennings said.

RELATED STORY: Is Sitting The 'New Smoking'? Doctors Say Long Days And Poor Posture Can Cause Widespread Harm

Whether we're sitting at our desks, staring at our devices or just walking around, posture is a big part of our day.

Dr. Mark Gugliotti is an associate professor of physical therapy. He says poor posture can lead to different types of pain.

"The neck, the head, the shoulders, the elbow, hips, low back, knees, feet and ankles, the whole body is subject to any sort of postural dysfunctions," he said.

(Credit: CBS2)

Gugliotti and his students demonstrated the right way to sit at a desk. To start, your feet should be flat on the floor.

"I'm going to lower the chair to a position that helps accentuate a 90-degree angle between the trunk and the hip, as well as a 90-degree angle between the upper leg and the lower leg," he said.

Shoulders and elbows should also be at 90 degrees. Your computer screen should be an arm's length away and positioned so your eyes are looking at the top third of the screen without moving your neck up or down.

Then there's what may be the biggest offenders; phones and other mobile devices can impact the back and especially neck.

"Having your phone more towards the front of your face would be the best scenario," Gugliotti said.

Don't forget about your posture when you're walking. Keep your back straight, not slumped, and try to pull your belly button in towards the spine.

If left untreated, poor posture can lead to nerve compression in the back of the neck, which can lead to headaches. Poor posture can even impact the lungs of patients with asthma, COPD and emphysema.

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