Posture: What’s The Big Deal?
Let’s get into why your posture might need a bit of love, and what’s at play beyond a bit of a back ache.
Firstly, let’s define posture – Posture is the position in which you hold your body through all movements. This is my own definition – but i’ll explain.
Typically it’s defined by how we hold ourselves when standing or sitting. But does that mean when you lift your kid, posture goes out the window? Does it mean that when you sleep, a weird contorted position for 8 hours is ok? (I think of my wife as I write this)
Posture includes the whole lot. For the sake this article, just imagine that beautiful C shaped spine we’ve come to know so well.
Here’s 5 good reasons work on your posture
1. It’s not that hot
Forgive me for starting with my opinion, but you probably agree. Ask your husband, wife, son, daughter to stand tall, then ask them to slouch. Which looks better?
Rounded shoulders, head poking forward, – It gives an impression of sadness and inferiority. Which leads me to the next point.
2. It influences effectiveness
Amy Cuddy’s popular TED talk shares that posture is a form of non verbal communication. Subconsciously we all judge based on the body language we receive from those around us.
She also explains that body language influences how we feel about ourselves, and how effective we’re likely to be in life.
In one of their studies they put subjects into high power (upright and open) and low power (slouched and closed) postures for 2 minutes. They then measured testosterone and cortisol, the hormones associated with confidence, optimism and stress control. The results favoured power posture greatly.
Holding yourself in a tall and open position significantly increases indicators of high effectiveness. So if you want to wake up and take on the world, you know what you’ve gotta do.
3. It causes Pain
Posture is hands down the biggest influencer of neck and lower back pain.
The average human head weighs 4-5kg. This is nothing, relative to the rest of the body. Stacked straight on top of the spine, it causes zero issues. But shifted the slightest bit…
Let’s do an experiment: Grab any object and hold it against your chest for a few seconds. Nothing right?
Now hold it at arms length for a few seconds (longer if it’s light-ish). I’m guessing your shoulder felt anything from a little extra work to sore.
Not a mind blowing experiment, by all means, but this is exactly what’s happening with your head.
When the angle of neck shifts forward 15 degrees, it more than doubles the weight of the head. At 30 degrees it’s just about quadruples it, and at 60 degrees (this is your head craned right down into a smart phone) it weighs a whopping 27kg.
Who has to deal with all this weight? The muscles, ligaments and tendons of the neck and upper back. Muscles become overworked and build excess tension. The ligaments become stretched to no return (literally). Indirectly, the shoulder’s suffer, and the lower back too.
4. It makes us just a little dumber
When the upper back and shoulders are rounded, it compresses the diaphragm and lungs, preventing full inhalation.
When an average inhalation comprises of about 1.6L of oxygen, and a shallow breath comprises of 1.1L, and the brain relies so heavily on that oxygen, it’s no surprise that it makes one a little dumber.
Furthermore the blood vessels that transport our oxygen are also compromised. So it’s a double whammy for our intelligence.
5. It messes with digestion & metabolism
“Ahh c’mon, now you’re just getting carried away”. Nope! No joke.
The diaphragm, while controlling breathing, also gently massages the digestive organs. With good posture, the diaphragm can perform at it’s absolute best.
Also important, is the nerve supply to the digestive organs. The Vagus nerve descends from the brain stem through the diaphragm. When we have poor posture, the Vagus nerve is compressed, resulting in bloating, irritable bowel, acid reflux and other digestive issues.
All physiological systems are so perfectly interrelated, so when something is a miss with one system, it has a cascading affect upon other systems. We just don’t recognize or appreciate it because it happens slowly over time.
There it is folks. 5 very good reasons to sort your posture out.
’til next time
Like an Oak, we grow slowly but surely
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