4 ways posture is affecting your health.
In brief here's how our posture fundamentally affects our vitality and wellbeing;
1. Our energy increases. With better posture, muscles function better and therefore the nervous system and vice versa operates better, hence improving our overall energy. For example, you may have noticed in some children with poor muscle tone, that they can tire quicker than other children.
2. Stress reduces. With the nervous system functioning better, stress is better tolerated and mood improves. When the body is slumped/crouched, it's also a position that ancestrally protects the vital organs. This response then also signals to the (ancestral) brain there's a potential danger and heightens the bodies stress response.
3. Wellbeing improves. If the body is better aligned i.e. posture improved, the body is automatically more open. Therefore digestion, respiration, circulation etc all function better. For example, try this quick exercise. Consciously move to a slumped position and try deep breathing or eating your food?... It's not easy or comfortable, is it? Posture affects how well we digest and absorb food plus the ability to breathe well i.e. deeply. With a shallow breathe i.e. from the chest this action also initiates the bodies sympathetic nervous system i.e. fight and flight/stress.
Interestingly, another indicator for longevity is glute strength! Those areas in the world known for longevity, the blue zones, also show that elders squat regularly in their day and have strong glute muscles. The gluteus (glutes) are comprised of 3 muscles. They are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. If they're strong and used often, they're going to affect our natural energy as well as our posture.
4. Injury prevention (& pain management). When the body is aligned and moving well, then we are far less likely to endure injury or pain. This is a big motivator for me in improving my posture and bodies alignment. I want to be able to keep running. I found This TED talk by Annette Verpillot, founder of Posture pro fascinating.
Commonly we think poor posture is a result of not being conscious of how we're carrying our body or laziness.
It's actually more likely to be a result of poor muscle strength, particularly core or glute strength which can relate back to the feet, the nervous system and therefore how well the body is communicating to the brain & vice versa.
Why we need happy feet.
- 25% i.e. 1/4 of all bones in the human body are in the feet.
- 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments lie in the feet.
- 100,000 - 200,000 exteroceptors (gather info. from the outside world for the brain) are in the sole of each foot!!
Our feet are some of the most nerve-rich parts of our body, directly communicating to our brain.
The brain relies on sensory receptors in our feet & other areas to gather info. To achieve this our feet need to touch their environment ie ideally barefoot.
Yet our often neglected feet, spend most of the time packaged up in shoes & not getting the sensory touch they (our brain) needs...
The foot not only helps us move but it’s also used by the brain to make subtle adjustments in our gait to protect bones and joints all the way up the body and to maximize the efficiency of how we move.
It makes sense then that how well we move actually depends on how well our feet (& ankles) move. And of course, for our childrens' developing brains, barefoot or soft soled shoes are even more important.
What I've noticed.
Personally, I've found that the weakness in my left leg etc. originates back to childhood, when I broke a big toe and learnt to walk on the left side of my foot rather than the ball of the foot which has affected my whole left side (as different muscles were used for daily movement). The left side of the body is the side of our feminine energy and influences the right/creative side of the brain.
I don't know for sure, but from all that I'm learning is it's a likely explanation and has repercussions for emotional wellbeing and much more.
And naturally, if the body isn't aligned, then ultimately it can predispose us for dis-ease.
So here's what I'm loving and is helping me strengthen my feet, toes, glutes and overall muscular/nervous system and ultimately brain health (I hope).
The moves I'm making.
- Sitting on the ground rather than a chair (currently typing this sitting on the floor). Standing at my desk, rarely sitting on a chair.
- Wearing shoes that give my feet space to move.
- Tony Riddle, The Natural Lifestyler Squat Tutorial.
- Annette Verpillot at Posturepro. Her TED talk and the work she is doing is fascinating, watch her talk here.
- Improving my running technique with Scarlett Duncan at Aspire to Run.
- Pilates with Balanze Studio. & clinical pilates with Cindy Davis at Cottesloe Sports Physiotherapy.
- Quietening my nervous system. Some of what I'm doing includes, being barefoot, swimming at the beach (through winter), spending as much time outside as possible, getting enough sleep and
- Working with some amazing practitioners with magic hands i.e. Paul Patterson at Capacity Health Chiropractic and Silvia Gonzalez at Be Alive Physiotherapy.
- Movement everyday, preferably outside.
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day.
I'd like to say meditation but I'm yet to get a regular practice happening! It's all work in progress, and I haven't jumped to all of the above at once, no way... it's been a natural progression and now I use different modalities depending on what my body needs. So if you're interested don't feel you need to do it all at once, do what feels right, one nourishing 'step' at a time.
In the research I've been doing and the changes I've been making in my own movement / posture practices, I've begun to understand that movement is MORE important than the food we're eating! The affect is so significant on the nervous system that it means we digest and absorb our food so much better.
Now take a moment to consider where there might be a 'kink' or two in your (& your childrens) incredibly intelligent body that could benefit from a little more love and attention?
If this information resonates for you then begin with one small change at a time e.g. being barefoot more often or giving your feet a bit more movement rather than being packaged up in shoes all day or working at the coffee table or having picnics on the floor with the kids. Whatever it might be, keep it simple and keep it fun.
And I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.