It’s a troublesome side effect of our increasingly tech-heavy world – the drooping head and hunched shoulder pose that we adopt at our computer or with our phones. The more often we assume the pose, the more our muscles and ligaments begin perceiving it as normal. The resulting poor posture doesn’t just affect our physical health and aesthetic, it can negatively impact our mood, energy levels, even our cognitive performance.
The Research Between Posture and Negative Thought Patterns
Dr. Erik Peper is a professor with the department of health education at San Francisco State University, and he’s conducted a series of studies on the relationship between posture and its effect on mood, energy, and cognition. When someone feels depressed or scared, it’s natural to pull in physically. Interestingly, Peper says that this relationship works both ways. That hunched position can promote the same feelings of depression and fear.
According to Dr. Peper, thoughts and emotions have a corresponding body activity, and these body activities have corresponding physiological experiences. While monitoring brain activity with EEG, Dr. Peper found that the brain works harder to retrieve positive memories if someone is slouching as opposed to sitting up.
There are other studies backing up the theory, and we already know that posture plays an important role in reducing neck pain. You can begin correcting poor posture with exercises that target the muscles between the shoulder blades, like bent-over rows. You can also try holding a resistance band at shoulder height and slowly pull it apart, while keeping the shoulders back and down. Stabilizing exercises, including planks and push ups, are also helpful for better posture, as are movements that will stretch the hips.
Keep in mind that exercises like these are important, but they won’t do much to combat hours upon hours of consistent poor posture. If you work at a computer, make sure to break up long periods of sitting with a few minutes of walking, focusing on good posture. And if you feel like an adjustment might help keep things in good working order, Dr. Lynelle McSweeney would be happy to help. Schedule your appointment today.