If you have a tendency to slouch in your seat, you need to pay attention! Poor posture has detrimental effects not only on the body, but also on one’s mood and general attitude.
Poor posture causes muscles in our neck and upper back to become overstretched, while causing other neck muscles and muscles in our torso and between our ribs to become cramped and overstimulated. The muscles in our chest become dominant, and pull our shoulders and upper arms inward and forward when we habitually adopt a stooped posture. This position puts a tremendous load on the diaphragm, and respiration suffers as a result. Even digestion becomes sluggish because the body cannot properly oxygenate and blood cannot circulate as well.
Poor posture can negatively impact your emotional state and confidence, not to mention how others perceive you. If you’re slouching right now, think of how you feel emotionally, mentally. Are you down, depressed? Now sit up straight and take a couple of nice, deep breaths. You should notice an immediate shift in attitude and mood.
Proper spinal alignment also has a positive effect on hormone levels. One Harvard study revealed that an erect posture, with shoulders back and spines nice and straight correlated with a 20 percent increase in testosterone levels and a 25 percent decrease in cortisol levels, while subjects who slouched experienced a 10 percent decrease in circulating testosterone levels and a 15 increase in cortisol.
Lastly, the way you carry yourself has immense bearing on how others perceive you. If you meet someone whose shoulders are pulled forward, your impression may be that the person isn’t the most motivated or energetic you’ve met. Yet if that person had a nice upright stance, with shoulders pulled down and back, your impression would probably be very different.
With some conscious effort, you can correct a hunched posture. Try this stretch at least a couple of times each day, and you will slowly begin to notice a correction in your posture. This is great for resetting the brain and creating more awareness of how you carry your body throughout the day.
AGAINST THE WALL
Stand with your back to a wall, feet together with heels touching wall, and arms hanging at your sides. Relax your shoulders, then pull them back so that they make contact with the wall. Stand in this position for 30 to 60 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths.
When you are ready to step away from the wall, keep your shoulders in the same position. Be aware of how you are breathing, and how your back feels when your shoulders are kept back.