How often do you end your day by diving headfirst onto your dreamy bed, with a soothing mask on your face and Netflix on your mind? While self-care is always much-needed, there’s one aspect of this routine that could seriously affect your health for years to come.
Hanging out on your tummy—whether you’re on your laptop, reading, or watching TV—could carry serious risks, health pros say. “Lying on your stomach causes a reversal of the normal curves of the spine,” chiropractor Sherry McAllister told Healthline. “The spine protects your nervous system, which controls and coordinates all the different functions of your body. Any disruption in nerve communication to your organs and body tissues will result in abnormal function.”
“The spine protects your nervous system, which controls and coordinates all the different functions of your body. Any disruption in nerve communication to your organs and body tissues will result in abnormal function.” —Sherry McAllister, chiropractor
By the time symptoms actually start to appear—which could take months or even years—the damage could already done. And unfortunately, two of the most common places affected are pretty crucial: your gut, since that pressure can cause constipation and bladder issues, as well as your breathing. When you don’t let your diaphragm fully contract and expand, it causes shallow inhales—something that’s been shown to worsen stress and anxiety.
Don’t worry, though: Even though you shouldn’t lie on your belly, there are still other positions you can safely get your relaxation on, experts say. When you’re ready to chill, just stick to either sitting upright or lying on your back propped up by some cozy pillows. You’ll still be just as Zenned out—promise.