Poor Posture Leads to Stress on our Body
Even the smallest things such as poor posture leads to stress on our body. It is estimated that 66% to 90% of people suffer from forward head posture (Griegel-Morris 1992). As I was reading an article from www.forwardheadposturefix.com I was quite fascinated in their findings! In a world that has forced so much more screen time interaction, I felt this a timely article for all of us! It’s one of those things that everyone keeps in the back of their mind but never get around to working on. It’s amazing how immediate a good-feeling response can be noticed simply by scooting your butt further back in your chair and sitting up tall. It’s also amazing how quickly the body deteriorates by not adjusting your posture and falling into the slouched position forcing the head to extend further than it should.
Correcting Poor Posture is Proven to decrease Stress Hormone “Cortisol”
A 2010 study that Dana Carney, a social psychologist at UC Berkeley, co-authored was among the first to demonstrate a link between body positioning and brain chemistry. It showed that when people took on “power poses” – standing in various postures reflecting confidence (chest up, shoulders back, head raised), regardless of whether they felt confident – it increased levels of testosterone and lowered levels of cortisol in the brain. As you may or may not know, testosterone is a hormone associated with increased muscle mass and bone density. This makes sense to me when I think of the many benefits of yoga that go beyond the muscle toning and stretching. It empowers a person emotionally as well. Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone”, which has been linked to rapid and unwanted fat gain. By moving from a head forward posture into a powerful and strong posture for 2 minutes can increase testosterone levels by 20% and decrease cortisol levels by 25%.
Forward Head Posture or (FHP for short) in particular has shown to lead to a decrease in the strength of the muscles involved in the breathing process which will decrease your breathing and can reduce your lung capacity by 30% (Kapreli 2009) (Dimitriadis 2013). A head forward posture blocks the action of the hyoid muscles, especially the inferior hyoid, which is responsible for lifting the first rib during inhalation. FHP can also lead to blocking off your airway while you sleep leading to a decrease in oxygen to your brain when sleeping and a decrease in the quality of your sleep overall. (Ozbek 1998). FHP creates an imbalance in the muscles surrounding the throat and this can lead to poor or obstructed airway, inducing snoring or noisy mouth breathing. Due to misalignment of your head and upper body, your airway can become blocked when you sleep which starves your brain of oxygen, severely disrupts sleep quality and leads to snoring. Sleep apnea is also caused from an obstructed airway but is a more severe breathing related issue compared to snoring and noisy mouth breathing.
How does Poor Posture cause Stress on our Body?
When the head is forward over the spine, the brain may not be receiving sufficient blood flow, nerve impulses, and oxygen due to compression of the carotid arteries and surrounding nerve endings. If this compression is severe enough, it can result in a central nervous system dysfunction. And the scary part is it doesn’t take much to cause a restriction within this part of the body.
As always the case with the body, when one link in the chain is broken or damaged, the strength of the whole chain is compromised. FHP not only negatively impacts appearance, hormone regulation, breathing and energy, it also can be linked to digestive issues, harmful effects on your vision and hearing, decrease your range of motion and even cause dizziness and balance issues.
Injury and pain can often be caused by text neck or gaming neck. The following illustration shows the shocking weight fluctuations of an average 8 -10 pound head when the head is moved forward over time. It’s no wonder we have so many upper back and neck issues today! These movements forward of our heads not only happen with texting and gaming, they can be seen as we age and don’t feel confident in our step and we walk with our head down looking at our feet instead of where we are headed. Think of holding a bag of groceries close to your body versus with your arm extended. The bag weighs the same, but see how much more effort, strain and pain are created when the arm is stretched forward. Now try that with a 10 pound bowling ball! This is EXACTLY what takes place when the head is moved out in front of the spine.
I was absolutely impressed with the company I gathered this information from. It’s a good idea to just become aware of your posture, from there you can make simple changes. Start with sliding your butt back in a chair and sitting up straight, Chest forward, chin pulled in. When you do this stand in front of a mirror sideways and acknowledge the shape of your shoulders and where your head sits.
If you are interested to see all the information yourself, and I highly recommend you do, check out www.forwardheadposturefix.com