Change your posture, Change your mood.
One more reason your mother was right when she told you not to slouch. Changing your slumped posture can boost your mood and increase your energy. Research conducted on college students has shown that altering your body posture from a slouched posture to a more upright position can improve your disposition and energy level (Peper). So even if you may be feeling sad or down you might be able to improve the way you feel just by sitting up a little taller and pulling those shoulders back.
Another study looked at posture in people who had major depressive disorder. They measured subject’s posture during depressive episodes versus when they were in remission and found a significant change in posture. During depressive episodes, there was a significant increase in head flexion and thoracic kyphosis (rounding of the upper back); when these episodes were over, the subjects’ postures were similar to the control group (Canales).
Finally, a pilot study was performed that looked at using yoga as an intervention for individuals with depression and they found a significant decrease in self-reported symptoms of depression and negative mood and fatigue (Woolery). Being active and working on one’s posture may be just the thing to brighten your day a little bit.
If a person is feeling down or depressed and assumes a hunched posture, overtime it may be expressed through the motor system as a recurrent pattern of contraction (see previous blog post on Fascia http://lafayettept.com/fascia-the-mystery-tissue/). This chronic postural pattern can affect the entire body because it requires compensations in the legs, neck, shoulder, and ribs. Also, with a hunched posture it is more difficult to fully expand the lungs during breathing which in turn can affect the chemistry of the blood. So if you are sitting in a hunched position at work all day and then sit in the same position when you are at home watching TV, eating dinner, or reading a book, this postural pattern will get stuck over time and may negatively affect your mood or make it harder to not feel sad or down.
While depression is a complex issue, knowing that how you sit and stand can contribute to how you feel may make you want to sit up a little straighter (you may also want to read our article on posture and alignment http://lafayettept.com/alignment-checked-lately/). So maybe as you are reading this, check your posture and see if you need to make any adjustments to your shoulders, back, neck or head and then see how you feel. While you may not be feeling a sense of pure joy and elation by pulling your shoulders back, hopefully you might feel a little bit better and your body will thank you in the long term.
We are here to help. If you feel you need professional help to improve your alignment, posture and help prevent further or future injury please don’t hesitate to contact us (925) 284-6150.
Written by Sydney Chute, Physical Therapist at Lafayette Physical Therapy, Inc.
Arranged and Edited by Zack Krumland, BSBA, PR & Marketing Coordinator
Canales, J. Z., T. A. Cordás, J. T. Fiquer, A. F. Cavalcante, and R. A. Moreno. “Posture and Body Image in Individuals with Major Depressive Disorder: A Controlled Study.” Revista Brasileira De Psiquiatria (Sao Paulo, Brazil : 1999). U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
Peper, Erik, and I-Mei Lin. “Increase or Decrease Depression: How Body Postures Influence Your Energy Level.” Biofeedback 40.3 (2012): 125-30. Web.
Myers, Thomas W. Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2014. Print.
Woolery, Alison; Myers, Hector; Sternlieb, Beth; Zeltzer, Lonnie. “A yoga intervention for young adults with elevated symptoms of depression.” Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Aliso Viejo10.2 (Mar/Apr 2004): 60-3.
Picture taken from Epoch Times [http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2194649-the-consequences-of-slouching-from-a-posture-expert/]