Did you know a study in the journal Behavioral and Therapeutic Experimental Psychiatry found that by improving posture of the head and neck people with depression were less fatigued and felt better about themselves.
In over 25 years of practice I have not had one person say take a look at my posture it’s AWESOME! Actually it is the opposite, nearly everyone feels that they have bad posture. Besides the obvious neck pain from holding your head forward most patients are not aware of the negative effects of bad posture. Here are five lesser known effects of bad posture:
Besides the study mentioned above another study in the journal Physical Therapy found that those with anterior head carriage (holding your head forward) had higher rates of depression. Just think about how your head automatically falls forward when you are sad, then imagine how you would feel if your head was always in that position.
Sitting for prolonged periods increases the pressure on the colon and restricts normal movement. Interestingly a study in the journal Technical Coloproctology found that when defecating bending forward into the “thinker”(not to be confused with the stinker) position actually facilitated defecation.
If your shoulders are rolled forward and your head is also hanging forward your ability to take a deep breath is significantly reduced. You can try this now and feel the difference. What is even more frightening was a study in the journal Physical Therapy Science, compared the respiratory function of a group that used a cell phone for one hour versus not using a phone and found a statistically significant reduction in the ability to take a deep breath in the phone group. So if you can’t take as deep of a breath then you have less oxygen in each breath and your heart has to beat faster because there is less oxygen in your blood. This one example alone shows what a huge effect posture has on your health.
Hypertension and Incontinence
The website Medical Daily discussed recent findings showing how a slumping posture increases blood pressure. The researchers stated that cells in the neck muscles tell the brain to raise or lower pressure due to movement of the head and neck and that the damage from repetitive strain in poor posture causes this system to leave the pressure high. They also talked about how sitting in the slumped C-shaped posture would weaken the floors in the pelvic floor which especially for women would increase the risk of leaking and incontinence.
Career and Relationship Problems
The weekly magazine The Economist had an interesting story about how posture not only affects how others think about us but how we think about ourselves. It has been shown in humans and other species that the larger we make ourselves the better others judge us. Think about the typical bad posture of head and shoulders slumped forward and how that makes us look smaller. One study found that regardless if the subjects were told they were subordinates or managers the ones in the more expansive posture scored better in tests.
While we all know that ergonomics is crucial for posture, core muscle strength and spinal flexibility are equally important. If you would like a test of core muscle strength and spinal flexibility click here for a consultation and test.