• The Integral Role of Posture in Your Health

    by Calliope Tsoukalas
    on May 17th, 2018

Do you often feel fatigued? Maybe even short of breath?

Posture and breathing are deeply connected. Makes sense. If you slump forward, you cramp the muscles needed for full respiration – diaphragm and intercostals (the muscles between your ribs) – so they do not have the freedom to do their work. It’s cyclical, too. The more you slump, the less oxygen exchange you have, which makes you feel more and more like slumping. However, it goes much deeper than that, and this is where it gets interesting.

Poor posture also contributes to breathing pattern dysfunction. With the diaphragm compressed, breathing relies upon chest and neck muscles, causing shallower breathes. This often puts the body into “fight or flight” mode and prohibits the body from utilizing the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes called the rest and digest system. The latter system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.

In “fight or flight” the adrenal glands are called upon to produce adrenaline as well as cortisol and aldosterone, all stimulants. The body taps into this system when you are in danger, under chronic stress (emotional or physical) or maintain poor posture. When these chemicals are pumped into the body for prolonged durations, the results include impairment of cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function (fatigue and cold sensitivity), depression, blood sugar imbalances, decreased bone density, increased blood pressure, low immunity, slowed healing, and increased abdominal fat.

There’s good news, though. Mobility and upright posture have been shown to affect cognitive performance. Adults with proper posture showed increased memory function (1). Proper postural training is available, and stretching and strengthening protocols have been shown to reduce forward head posture, which leads to a decline in proprioceptive and cognitive function (2).

Setting up an ergonomic work station is essential as well as implementing an exercise regimen that targets postural muscles. Pilates is a great option to strengthen and realign the body. Body awareness will help you lift the chest and utilize your core muscles throughout the day.

Call us if you would like help determining the correct protocol for your situation. We have dedicated professionals that can create a custom plan to adjust your posture and give your body its full capacity to thrive.

310.396.3635

 

  1. Cohen, R. et al. (2016) Mobility and Upright Posture Are Associated with Different Aspects of Cognition in Older Adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 8(257).
  2. Yong, M. S., Lee, H. Y., & Lee, M. Y. (2016). Correlation between head posture and proprioceptive function in the cervical region. Journal of physical therapy science28(3), 857.
Author Calliope Tsoukalas Nutrition Counselor/Health & Fitness Writer

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