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November 18, 2013

How Posture Affects Your Brain

I don't know about you, but I grew up hearing things such as "stand up straight," meaning chest out, shoulders back. The resulting "military pose" was uncomfortable and hard to maintain. But it turns out that all those parents and teachers were on to something about the importance of posture.

I could speak volumes about the importance of balanced posture for functional mobility including the ability to lift our arms to improving standing balance, oxygenating the body and lubricating, or at least improving blood flow, to body organs. From an appearance standpoint, correcting a slouched posture can take years off of a person's appearance, magically transforming the decrepit looking elder into the vital individual they once must have been.

Now it turns out that science backs up the promotion of a balanced posture with surprising conclusions about it's impact on how we think and feel. LifeHacker discusses how posture affects opinion, mood, and even hormone production. They give tips for how to achieve better posture and emphasize that posture is a dynamic process, always changing because we are living, moving beings.

For me, I work on posture with myself and my patients every day. Too many directives for correcting posture is like exercise: too many and none of them will be followed. So I tell folks (myself included) simply lift your sternum (breast bone) toward the ceiling. This can be done when sitting or standing. It serves to activate the paraspinal muscles of the lower thoracic spine (the muscles on either side of the back bone on your lower rib cage). This serves to draw the shoulders back and aligns the head over the spine, requiring much less effort than the military pose we were taught as kids.

Give it a try. You'll see how much easier it is to breathe and you may even feel improved blood flow into your head.

Posted by linda at November 18, 2013 7:00 AM

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