Since May is Correct Posture Month, many healthcare professionals want to remind you of how important good posture is, and bring awareness to the multitude of health benefits associated with correct posture. Most people already know that correct posture can reduce back and body pains. If you improve your body positioning , however, you won’t only be reducing pain and injury. Some of the lesser-known health and wellness benefits of good posture include: improving blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, which can improve energy and mental alertness; better digestion; stronger muscles, and even a better mood.
Correct body positioning leads to improved blood flow and better circulation of oxygen. In order to function optimally, your brain needs a healthy amount of blood and oxygen delivered to it. Improving body positioning also holds the potential to improve digestion, energy, and mood.
There’s a difference between postural imbalances, having poor posture and postural stress. Postural imbalances such as uneven hips can be corrected by a chiropractor. Poor posture is simply poor body positioning or a bad habit such as slouching. Postural stress is a challenge to your posture caused by things like a workstation that is not ergonomic. If your desk at work is too low and you must hunch over to use your computer, that can cause postural stress.
In the modern workplace, too many people sit all day with poor posture. Correcting postural imbalances, setting up an ergonomic workstation and learning correct sitting posture could lead to a variety of health improvements including better digestion, more energy, increased mental focus, and reduced body pains. To gain more insight into how improving posture can benefit our health, HoneyColony spoke with Dr. Michael Horowitz, an esteemed chiropractor who specializes in improving posture.
Good Posture Leads To Improved Mental And Physical Energy
One of the most significant health and wellness benefits of improving your posture has to do with your mental alertness, as well as your overall energy level on a day-to-day basis. Dr. Horowitz explains, “Optimal mental and physical energy requires good oxygen flow and blood flow. Slouching compresses your lungs, inhibiting the amount of air you’re able to inhale. Poor posture also compromises blood circulation in your body.”
Since better posture leads to better breathing and therefore more oxygen getting to your brain, it’s no wonder why correct body positioning can lead to improved mental alertness, focus, and a better mood. Dr. Horowitz confirms:
Poor posture results in your body’s tissues and your brain not receiving as much oxygenated blood. This can lead to mental fatigue or brain fog as well as body fatigue. When we sit or stand correctly, and our spine is lined up well, there is less interference with the nervous system and our body becomes a well-oiled machine. Plus, sitting up straighter can improve confidence and overall mood.
When it comes to breathing, Dr. Horowitz adds, “ When you slouch, you could take in as much as 30% less oxygen.” Knowing this statistic makes it clear why so many employers these days invest in ergonomic workstations for their employees and cover chiropractic care. If correct body positioning can improve energy and mental alertness, it could also improve productivity.
“Good posture leads to more energy for other reasons aside from improved blood flow and oxygen flow,” Dr. Horowitz explains. “Overall ease of motion related to better posture conserves our energy, and an optimally functioning nervous system accommodated by good posture will also improve energy.”
How Posture Affects The Digestive System
Another lesser-known benefit of improving your body positioning is the beneficial impact on your digestive system. Dr. Horowitz says:
Poor posture has a compressing effect on the abdominal organs needed for digestion, so your gastrointestinal system may not function as effectively if you are in the habit of sitting in poor posture after eating. Poor posture after eating can lead to gas, constipation and acid reflux.
Gas can move more easily through your body if you stand or sit up straight with correct posture after eating, and blood can flow to your digestive system more easily with good body positioning as well, allowing everything to work as it should.
In addition to improving digestion, good body positioning also improves some related problems such as bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas. This study found that good posture can reduce intestinal gas and the associated bloating and abdominal pain, because the transit of gas is faster and more effective when we are in an upright, straighter position. Gas can get trapped in the intestines if we slouch or compress our abdominal organs, which can cause noticeable pain, bloating, and discomfort.
Sitting Is The New Smoking
In general, people who spend excessive amounts of time sitting in poor positioning are more likely to have circulation problems, back injuries, and mobility problems. Sitting all day at work, especially with improper posture, weakens your muscles, interferes with the nervous system, and compromises your body’s ability to effectively circulate blood.
“We have become a sitting culture as most jobs are sedentary these days,” says Dr. Horowitz.
Sitting for 8 hours a day — especially when sitting in a slouched or hunched over position — takes a toll on the human body and creates back and body pains. This is why many experts in the healthcare field say, ‘sitting is the new smoking’, as sitting all day without correct posture can lead to a variety of health problems.”
Dr. Horowitz goes on to explain that there are some simple ways to improve body positioning at work if you have a sedentary job.
Be mindful not to let yourself slouch while using the computer, and ensure that everything you need – your keyboard, your notebook, etc — are within ergonomic distance. You shouldn’t have to crank your neck upwards to look at something, you shouldn’t hunch or look downwards too much, and nothing at your workstation should be difficult to reach.
Your posture is the position of your body while you are standing, sitting or lying down. One of the most common examples of poor posture is looking downwards with hunched shoulders.
Dr. Horowitz explains why looking downwards, also known as “text neck”, is so bad for us:
The average head weighs 8-12 lbs, but when it is tilted forward, its weight can become the equivalent of holding 40 pounds of weight, which places a great deal of stress on the neck, shoulders and mid to upper back. The more your head slouches forward due to poor posture, the greater the force you’re putting on your neck, shoulders, and back.
This crisis can be averted with correct body positioning . Moving your computer monitor to eye level and keeping shoulders back will help prevent this strain and misalignment. Dr. Horowitz says it’s also best to adjust your chair so that the angle between your legs and thighs is at 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor. This reduces postural stress on the low back muscles.
Improving Your Posture
Improving your posture can prevent various injuries and ailments. To correct your posture, start by seeing a chiropractor to learn what correct body positioning looks like, and to check for postural imbalances. Dr. Horowitz explains:
Many people have postural imbalances they aren’t even aware of, which can have a serious long-term impact on the body’s central nervous system. Perhaps you have uneven hips, a hunchback or one shoulder higher than the other, for example. A chiropractor helps to correct these postural imbalances while also improving range-of-motion and strengthening your postural muscles.
Dr. Horowitz confirms that at his practice, Hycroft Chiropractic & Massage, 90% of his patients have poor posture or postural imbalances.
I have been a practicing chiropractor for 18 years, and 9 out of 10 patients that see me have postural imbalances that need correcting in order to improve their posture. I also adjust the spine to improve the movement pattern of the spine, as spinal alignment certainly helps improve posture. The spine holds up the body with the vertebrae, and mobility of these vertebrae allow us to move with ease, sit straighter, and maintain optimal nerve flow.
The alignment of your feet matters when it comes to correcting your body positioning , too. Dr. Horowitz explains, “Patients of mine have reported improved posture after getting custom orthotics that improved the alignment of their feet.”
To sum it up, you should be extremely motivated to improve your posture, because of how many health benefits are associated with good body positioning. The month of May might be Correct Posture Month, but you stand to benefit from having good posture year-round.
Erica Gordon is the Managing Editor at HoneyColony.
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