OK, we all know that we should stand up straight and probably have some childhood memories of our mum harping on at us to ‘stop slouching’! However is it really that bad for us? Seriously what is the worst thing that can happen if we slouch…I mean everyone does it right?!
Well as we are on a roll, why don’t we back it up with, ‘If your friend jumped off a cliff would you?!’ Sorry we couldn’t help ourselves! Just because something is ‘normal’ doesn’t mean that it is good for you.
Unfortunately the research doesn’t look great when you look at the consequences of poor posture…shrinking is the least of your problems.
For some shock factor…let’s just throw in, hormonal changes, decreased confidence, increased stress response, disc degeneration, arthritis, loss of quality of life and pain! Today we are going to address mood…posture is a big beast!
What?! You say…how can posture affect your mood?
To help get your head around this, pretend that you are in a shopping centre and playing ‘big brother’. As you observe all the people walking past we can guarantee that you will be able to tell who is having a good day and who is having a ‘not so great’ day, purely by looking at them.
Why is that? The people who are having a good day are standing up straight, shoulders back, smiles on their faces…the opposite is true for the other group.
So what came first? The poor posture or the poor mood?
Freaky answer is that it’s a bit of the chicken and the egg, the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, it’s a two way street.
A great example is to think of a really proud moment in your life, where you felt really chuffed with yourself. It may have been your wedding, acing an exam or winning a gold medal! (If it was the later then well done…that’s pretty awesome!)
Chances are that your shoulders would be down and back and you may have had your arms raised above your head, fist-pumping the air!
So let’s back this up with some science.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy presented a ted talk in 2012 (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en), demonstrating that doing a ‘power posture’ for 2 minutes before an interview increased the candidates chance of success.
The inverse was also true. In addition, they measured hormone levels and found that testosterone (the hormone of dominance) increase by up to 20% after a power posture and decreased by up to 10% with a low-power posture.
Cortisol (a major stress hormone) decreased by up to 25% after a power posture and increased by 15% in a low-power posture. Woah!
So two minutes of holding a physical posture lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be either assertive, confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive and feeling shut down. Talk about life changing!
Bottom line, let’s start prioritising our posture.
Instead of thinking that it’s irrelevant or something that you can’t help, or will ‘deal’ with later…start thinking about ways that you can improve it, whether that be changing your work station, increasing activity, getting adjusted by your chiropractor or doing 2 minutes of power postures daily!
Yours in ‘straight’ health,
Dr A and Dr J x