As a father of three I often find myself telling my kids to sit up straight, especially at the dinner table. Why is it so important to sit up straight? Are we just repeating what our parents told us when we were kids or are there more benefits to having good posture. I have often told my oldest that if she continues to slouch she will become a hunchback and have back pain for the rest of her life. I definitely use the drama card to get my point across, but it’s not that far from the truth. There is also a bigger reason why I want my daughters to hold themselves well and I will get to that in a second!
There is a long list of physical compensations that occur just from sitting all day at a desk. First a foremost, let’s get one thing straight, there is no miracle chair or sitting position that will magically wipe away the effects of sitting in a chair for 8 hours in a row. For sure we can improve our sitting posture and improve the chair we sit in to help decrease the effects but the main issue is that we sit way too much in a day then we are supposed to. The better solution would be to get up and move around more often or perhaps incorporate an adjustable desk so we can work either seated or standing. The name of the game is to keep changing positions and not let the body fall into one position for too long. Bad posture also emerges from using all our amazing little devices we never had before such as, texting on our phones, reading on an iPad etc…
What are the symptoms and observations we see most from bad seated posture? Many patients will come in complaining of various areas of discomfort:
|Neck pain||Forward head posture|
|Low back pain||Numbing in the hands|
|Shoulder pain||Numbing in the legs|
|Jaw pain||Diaphragm tension|
|Chest pain||Shortened Hip flexors|
|Difficulty breathing||Hip pain|
|Digestive problems (bloating, constipation, heartburn)||Insomnia, anxiety, depression, lack of self esteem|
|Sinus issues||Pelvic floor tensions (bladder, prostate, uterus)|
This seems like a lot but I wanted to highlight some of the ones we treat regularly at our clinic. As you can see the effects of bad posture are not only physical. You can tell a lot about someone just by the way they hold themselves. This is the secret reason why I nag my daughters about their posture, I want them to feel powerful and self-confident. I want them to know that they can change the way they feel just by changing their mindset and how they hold themselves. If you have a chance, watch Amy Cuddy’s amazing Ted Talk on how posture can shape your core identity.
Amy Cuddy brilliantly describes the importance of “faking it until you become it”. She shows the difference in posture between powerful confident people and weak low self-esteem people. The powerful people often held themselves open and spread out, maybe the hands on the waist type of pose and the people with low self-confidence made themselves small and unimposing. She demonstrates in her study that people doing confident power poses for 2 minutes can increase their testosterone by 20% and decrease the stress hormone cortisol by 10%. Whereas, the people doing low self-confidence poses decreased their testosterone by 25% and increased cortisol by 15%.
So, my suggestion would be own a better posture and see the depth at which this could significantly improve your health and success in life. I feel privileged to be able to work with people every day and witness the change that occurs when an individual’s core identity breaks through the resistance.
In good health,
P.S. Join Dr. Yacine Chikh and I on November 21st for our live seminar on how stress can affect your pain. Details here.