A healthy and upright posture is very important. Not only does it look good, feel better, and allow for a healthy spine and body to feel less stress, but it is also correlated with better function of your body and overall health.
One of the most researched areas of posture and health is the correlation found between cardiovascular health and posture. Poor posture in the spine and rib cage has been shown to affect the function of the heart and lungs. A study that followed 4000 men for 20 years and found that those with the greatest height loss and postural changes had a 64% higher risk of developing heart disease. Forward posture and decreased space in the chest increases the pressure on the heart and lungs, with potential to affect their function.
Blood flow to the brain
We know that physical activity impacts your circulation, but did you know that there is evidence that sitting hunched over at a computer screen specifically restricts blood to the brain? Your brain receives 15-20% of your total blood supply, with blood delivering oxygen and nutrients required to survive along with removing waste products. This reduction in blood flow can impact this supply and your brain health.
Your body’s position can affect the function of your respiratory system. Forward posture physically impacts the length of your breathing muscles such as your diaphragm changing the pressure. Studies have shown that slumped posture greatly reduces lung function compared with upright posture, and actually reduces the lungs capacity and volume.
How to improve posture
Now we understand the importance of posture and the function in the body, how do we improve our posture?
- Opening exercises
Using a posture pole at the end of the day to open and stretch your chest and shoulders can help to reset your posture, reducing the forward stress of the day.
- Check your desk ergonomics
Take a deep breath in, out, and let your body slump. Are you dropping forward through the head and shoulders? If so, you may need to alter your chair and desk set up to support your pelvis and lower back. A small wedge under your seat can stop your bottom from rolling back and prevent your upper back and head from going forward to compensate.
- Lift your phone to your head height. It may feel funny but adjusting the height of your phone means your head will not be as forward, taking tension off your postural muscles.
- Reduce screen time. Often, we have too much screen time. Having phone and computer free time will give your body and brain a break!
- Get checked by a chiropractor. The long-term structural stress of poor posture can lead to an unhappy spine and nervous system. Getting adjusted regularly can improve your spinal health and posture.