Posture Perfect

As a Chiropractor, I talk about posture a lot. It is sort of expected, which is evident when people stand taller when we are introduced. The topic of posture used to be dry and boring to me, but the more I learn, the more I see how much it is a window to our overall health and can affect how we experience the world.

There really are two forms of posture: conscious and reflexive. Conscious posture is that which we correct when we adjust our seat to sit up straight, or draw our chin back when we see how far our head is reaching forward. The majority of postural control however is in response to reflexes in our body to prevent us from falling forward. In other words, it starts with our spinal alignment. Our spine is designed to support the weight of the body via curvatures and proper "stacking" of vertebrae. Any shifts in our body, from moving our arms, to tilting our head, must be countered with muscle contractions and compensation to allow us to remain upright. Imagine the compensation that occurs in response to chronic postures, such as sitting and working at a computer for 8 hours a day (insert forward head carriage and rounded shoulders). I could go into much further detail, but long story short, posture is important and the more we compromise it throughout our day, the more we must do to correct it. 

So why does this even matter? Aside from altered motion (which leads to degenerative change over time), a poor posture consumes a lot more energy (fatigue), reduces lung capacity (reduced oxygen intake = fatigue and brain fog), contributes to muscle imbalance (weak muscles opposing tight muscles = aches, prone to injury), and on an unexpected note, can alter people's perception of you, and your perception of the world. 

The last point may seem a little out-there, but walk with me through this. When you encounter someone, their stature sends immediate clues as to their confidence, mood, etc. In fact, a TED talk* explored this topic form both directions. The fact that one's confidence/ mood can affect posture is not a new idea, but researchers wanted to explore if posture could actually change one's level of confidence. You can probably imagine what they discovered. It was found that a 2-min power pose could increase a person's level of confidence in a situation they previously felt apprehensive about. Watch the video in the link below...its fascinating. 

Long story short, your posture may be one of the biggest clues to your overall health, and if properly maintained can be a catalyst to living a more full and healthy life. Pay attention to the people around you, what their posture is reflecting, or more importantly, have someone properly assess YOUR posture, and take proctive steps to optimize your health!

*Click here for Body Language Ted Talk