Posture is essential to your overall health, and it can be tough to maintain throughout your day-to-day activities. Proper posture is important for the health of your spine, but did you know it also affects your mental well-being? There is growing evidence that proper posture contributes to a number of health benefits, from reducing joint and back pain to boosting your mood.
According to Allston Stubbs, an orthopedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, posture is “probably the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to health and wellness”. Stubbs treats patients with joint and back pain and finds that “the spine and overall skeletal structure” are “critical to a patient’s functionality and their satisfaction with their life and healthcare”.
What is the link between body position and mood?
It is well-known that depression can cause slumped posture, and new evidence suggests that the opposite is also true — slouching can spark negative thoughts and emotions.
A recent German study divided 30 individuals receiving in-patient treatment for depression into two groups and asked them to sit in either a slumped or an upright position. The participants were shown 16 uplifting words like “enjoyable” and “beauty” on a computer screen, then 16 negative words like “dejected” and “exhaustion”.
After each word, participants were asked to imagine themselves in a scene where they were connected with the word, such as a time when they felt beautiful or depressed. The participants were then distracted for other tasks for five minutes and then asked to recall as many of the words as they could.
Those that were in the slumped position recalled more negative words than positive, while those that sat in an upright position showed a more balanced recall. Studies like these, published in the journal Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, show links between your mood and your posture.
One of the most common posture problems we see is called kyphosis. Kyphosis is directly related to spending too much time hunched over in front of a computer. The shoulders hunch forward, the pectoral muscles tighten in the chest, and the head and neck extend towards the screen causing the spine to no longer be vertically aligned. Many of today’s desk-bound professionals find that position translates over to when they stand and walk.
Maintain Proper Posture
Proper posture while standing doesn’t just mean throwing your shoulders back. It is important to maintain good alignment with your ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, and hips over your knees and ankles. Your body weight should be distributed evenly between your feet.
While seated, and especially while using a computer, it is critical to focus on your posture particularly because it can also affect how you stand and walk. Keep tabs on your posture while sitting in your chair at work, while driving, and while using your cell phone or tablet.
So many who use electronic devices sit in a hunched over position, and we are seeing an increase in new neck and back pain problems in both teenagers and adults. By practicing proper posture and receiving regular chiropractic adjustments, your spine (and your mood) will thank you!