Last week I presented at the Finchley Weight Loss Centre discussing posture and in particular how stress can affect your posture. Here is the talk in 500 words!
When we hear the word posture we automatically think about sitting up straight in your chair and most actually do this. Posture isn’t just about how you sit or stand or whether you have good and bad posture, it’s constantly changing and is affected by internal and external stressors. For me, posture is how we keep our muscles, bones and joints in alignment as we move.

Repeating movements that create posture habits

neck pain from sittingWe discussed repetition of movement or staying in the same position for prolonged periods of time. The most common example with this is computer/laptop use. As our arms are forwards the muscles and tissues at the front of the body are shortened and the muscles at the back are in a constant battle trying to pull the shoulder blades back, which causes the tension in the back of the body. This repetition cr
eates a change in the body and a change in the posture as it affects the whole body.

Think of your body like a tensegrity structure; wooden poles symbolising your bones connected together by elastic which are your muscles. If you pull on one elastic band; the whole structure has to adapt and change shape. So if your chest muscles are tight, it is likely to have an effect on your posture as a whole.

 

Body Language

Our body language has an impact on our posture and our emotions have an impact on our body language. When we are stressed our shoulders tend to crunch up and round and if we are happy and relaxed our body language is more open and our posture is more relaxed.

Research has shown that when we present negative body language, the stress hormone cortisol is released. We need cortisol in small doses to help adrenaline through stressful periods in the hunter-gatherer days when we needed to run away to avoid being eaten, but now our lives provide a different type of stress and cortisol is secreted when we have a stressful day at work. Cortisol impacts on our muscles by creating muscle tension and prevents protein being received by the muscle cell (we need protein in our muscles for repair). When our body language is positive and more open, the levels of cortisol was lower which can benefit those stressful situations at work and helps the muscle repair from increased levels of muscle tension from prolonged computer work.

Tips to help improve your posture

  • Watch your diet: sugar and caffeine impacts the stress hormones, reducing this will have a positive impact on how our body moves.
  • Eat protein: We need protein to maintain healthy muscle and tissues
  • Drink water: There are many health benefits of drinking water but water helps keep the tissues hydrating and fluid enabling the tissues to move freely with ease.
  • See an Alexander Technique Practitioner: A great way to have your posture assessed and help balance your body
  • Check out your desk ergonomics: Most companies will be able to provide you with the relevant resources to have your position optimum for you
  • Use your phone at eye level: Using your phone with your chin pointing down adds extra weight for your neck muscles to support. For more information on this, read my blog on neck pain
  • Wear good quality shoes (and avoid heels as much as you can)
  • Balance out your load by using a rucksack rather than a shoulder bag
  • Look after your muscles by having regular massages, using a foam roller, and taking up classes such as Pilates, yoga and meditation.

Want to know more? Book a getting to know you session with us today!