If you’ve ever seen a kid’s sports team walk home after losing a game, or a little girl deflate after losing an ice cream cone on a hot day, you know how inextricably posture is linked to our emotional state and well-being. Posture is a window to our emotional state. In fact, various studies from Charles Darwin to a 2011 Geneva University project have shown the effects of body posture on emotional state. Anyone who’s ever watched Rowan Atkinson channel Mr. Bean, or Jim Carey invoke Ace Ventura has seen this relationship manifest.
Aside from the connection between posture and emotional state, however, there is also a correlation between posture and physiological well-being. Poor posture occurs when certain muscles tense up and shorten while others become weaker and longer. This misalignment
often results in rounded shoulders, a pushed-forward head position, excessive curvature of the spine, and a ‘pot belly’ or protruding stomach, making people with otherwise fine physiques look dumpy and depressed. While poor posture can make someone look sad or depressed, it can also create other serious health problems.
A slouched or slumped spine can constrict the nerves and vascular structure of the back, leading to poor circulation. This means that blood – and the oxygen and nutrients it carries – has trouble reaching all of the cells in the body, which slows the healing process, accelerates cellular decay, and provides a more hospitable environment for foreign pathogens. Within the structure of the back, this can lead to the degeneration of vertebrae, further exacerbating the problem and causing weakness, pain, and reduced mobility.
This spinal degeneration and restricted circulation starts a vicious circle of back, neck, and shoulder pain, along with headaches and joint pain, which can make the sufferer unable to stand fully erect or move their back and limbs through the full range of motion. Poor posture à back pain à worse posture à more pain.
Fixing poor posture requires a holistic approach that involves stretching shortened muscles and ligaments, activating unused muscles, and maintaining sitting, walking, and sleeping alignments that foster the correct posture.
Stay tuned for an upcoming video series with BodyMend’s clinic director Jason Hensen who will show you some examples of postural problems along with exercises to help correct them.
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