How’s Your Posture Making You Feel?

Dr. Ben Coupe
Stress Reduction

July 12, 2016

We all know that our state of mind can affect our postures. When was the last time you saw someone who felt depressed or powerless and they adopted a slouched posture with their head hanging low? Or when was the last time you saw someone win a competition? They probably stood tall with pride; head held high (maybe with their arms raised to the sky and jumping about too!) This shows that our minds can change our postures. However, what’s more interesting is that research has recently shown that our postures can also change our minds!

A study performed by Carney et al. in Psychological Science (2010) has shown the link between posture and the hormones in our body that affect our emotions and thinking.Soccer player with arms raised cheering, stadium at night time

First, let us discuss what good posture is? Good posture is characterised by standing tall, shoulders back and head held high. This is also known as an “expansive”, “open” or “powerful” posture. On the contrary, slouching, shoulders rolling forward and the head drooping forward characterise bad posture. These “closed” and “contractive” postures not only cause our muscles and joints to work extra hard but this study shows that it also has a physiological and psychological effect on us!

In the study, half of the participants were told to adopt closed, contractive postures for 10 minutes, and the other half were told to adopt open, expansive postures, for the same length of time. After that, psychological tests were given to participants and hormonal changes were measured. The results showed that when these postures are simulated, it causes hormonal changes in the body that dampens our mood, decreases our levels of stress tolerance and decreases our risk tolerance.

In simple terms, bad postures cause us to feel stressed, unhappy and nervous. The reverse is also true. Good postures make us feel happy, less stressed and more assertive! Think about this the next time you come in for your adjustment. You might just leave feeling a bit happier, a bit less stressed and a bit more powerful!

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