Shocker– posture is getting worse. We’re hunched over all sorts of things, like computer screens and cell phones. You know that’s not good, and if you’re like me, perhaps you have several dear people who
nag pester helpfully remind you to stand up straight. One of the first thing my trainer taught me is that we spend so much time being slumpy that most people don’t have the strength to keep their shoulders pulled back. This is especially true for women (which is why I harp on T-section strength, ladies) but it is becoming more widespread.
But I’m guessing you don’t know how completely terrible poor posture is, and how it could be wreaking havoc on your digestion, libido, and even your job. Here’s a starter list of what could be going wrong:
- Muscle imbalances-muscle, tendons, and fascia can become short and stiff– which makes it impossible for the proper muscles to do their jobs– which in turn causes unnatural movement patterns based on compensations
- Your breath becomes inefficient: Your lungs sit in your chest cavity, which very often becomes squished as we slump forward. Lungs are a little like balloons–if they are squished, they aren’t going to hold as much air as they otherwise would. To understand why this is so important, think about all the functions in your body that require oxygen. Yeah.
- Your digestion becomes impaired. Your stomach and intestines don’t appreciate being squished any more than your lungs do. Not to be overly graphic, but your digestive system’s job, in part, is to send things on their merry way. Not only are you not able to properly digest your food, which means you may not be absorbing the nutrients from what you are eating, but nothing is going to move at the rate its supposed to. Additionally, being slumped can create Intrabdominal pressure, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds when there is too much.
- Your hormones get wonky: A Havard study found that people with a slouched posture had a 10% decrease (listen up, fellas) in testosterone and a (pay attention everyone) 15% increase in cortisol. If you missed the Post, cortisol is a stress hormone that plays a huge role in your ability to lose weight.
- Your self esteem takes a dive: When your shoulders are rounded, you don’t feel your best. And not only that, but it also changes the way people perceive you– which could absolutely affect your success in your chosen career. You don’t trust a car salesman who won’t look you in the eye. And most of us don’t trust someone who looks like they are completely uncertain of what they are doing.
Now that you know why it matters so much, here’s how you fix it. Stand up straight with your spine long, your head facing forward (without being turned or your neck being rounded), and your shoulders in line with the midline of your body. Push your shoulders away from your ears.
It takes a lot of work to get it right and to be able to maintain it. One thing that helps teach your body is making a habit that every time you walk past a certain wall in your home or workplace, stand with your heels as close to the baseboard as your butt will allow. Put your shoulder blades against the wall and gently lift your head toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds to remind yourself how it is supposed to feel. Practice taking ten deep breaths.
In tomorrow’s post:
All in, all the time? You may be doing more harm than good!